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Question Number: 20955

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/10/2009

RE: Rec Under 12

Steve of London, UK asks...

I volunteer ref for my son's club from time to time. In my last game I made a call that I believe is right and certainly within what I think is the spirit of the relevant law, but not sure if it was.

It concerns a back pass to the 'keeper.

A corner was played in to the penalty box. It landed at the feet of a defender who controlled it with his first touch and then, with his second touch, deliberately kicked it towards the goal line to play it out for a corner. The 'keeper scrambled from his goal, dived and collected the ball with his hands to prevent it going for a corner. I awarded an IDFK for a back pass on the basis that whilst the defender didn't intend to pass the ball to the 'keeper, the 'keeper deliberately collected the ball knowing that it had been kicked with the intention of it going out of play (there was no doubt that this was intentional on the defenders part). As a result the attacking team were at a disadvantage by the 'keeper collecting the ball.

Fortunately there was no dispute from any players, coaches or supporters and the free kick hit the post and was then cleared, so the game wasn't affected negatively if I was wrong.

What's your views on my call?

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

You say the defender deliberately kicked it towards the goal line in hopes of giving up a corner. There's no Law against that, well done defender. Now the 'keeper sees a ball loose in his penalty area, that can be played by anyone mind you, and fell on it. There's no Law preventing that either because you, the referee, were already of the opinion the ball was not kicked to the 'keeper, it was kicked to touch for a corner. That's a key here, an important key!

There's a fine line between what you saw and the keeper handling the ball deliberately kicked to him or to where he could play it. It takes experience to see the difference and because no one had enough experience to know the difference you were able to sell your decision.


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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Steve, you were the one there and the only one who could make the call. Based on what you tell us, the ball was deliberately kicked by a defender to a place where the goalkeeper could reach it. USSF tells us that is the criteria for meeting the illegal handling test for goalkeepers. So, on the one hand, your call was technically correct, and only you can know if it was the right call under the Law and the Spirit of the Game.

The reason this restriction on keepers is in the Laws is to prevent teams from timewasting by kicking the ball to the keeper, having them pick it up, throw it back and around and around we go.

So, if in your opinion as the referee, the technical criteria for a deliberate kick to the keeper (please don't call this a back pass or a passback - that's a misnomer) have been met, but it doesn't meet the smell test of something that must be punished to keep the game fair, you have the freedom to decide it is a trifling or doubtful breach of the Law and allow the game to continue.

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