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Question Number: 21163

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/21/2009

RE: AYSO Under 18

Chuck Schutt of Knoxville, TN USA asks...

I am writing in regard to what is commonly referred to as the Goalkeeper Pass Back rule but is specifically a section added in Law 12 a few years ago. The FIFA verbiage is clear and I thought easy for me to administrate as an official. I readily agree with the change given the reasoning to stop time wasting by teams toward the end of a game, and to stop the dangerous cat-and-mouse that some keepers/defenders played with attackers. The change supports a better flow for the play and is more in the Spirit of the Game.
But I find some discrepancy in the USSF Advice to Referees where strictly following the 'Advice' and not the 'Laws' is not in the Spirit of the Game and actually inhibits normal play. This was not the intention for the change. I list excerpts from the 'Laws' and the 'Advice' below for comparison. Specifically the ** lines are the ones of interest.

FIFA
(part of Law 12)
An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper inside his own penalty area, commits any of the following four offenses:
- controls the ball with his hands for more than six seconds before releasing it from his possession
- touches the ball again with his hands after he has released it from his possession and before it has touched another player
- ** touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate
- touches the ball with his hands after he has received it directly from a throw-in taken by a team-mate



USSF Advice to Referees

(section 12.20 BALL KICKED TO GOALKEEPER)
A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he or she touches the ball with the hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him or her by a teammate.

The requirement that the ball be 'kicked' means only that it has been played with the foot.

** The requirement that the ball be 'kicked to' the goalkeeper means only that the the play is to or toward a place where the keeper can legally handle the ball.

The requirement that the ball be 'deliberately kicked' means that the play on the ball is deliberate and does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or misdirected.

Later in this section in the Advice it specifically says: 'This portion of the Law was written to help referees cope with time wasting tactics by teams, not to punish players who are playing within the Spirit of the Game.'



Here is a situation in youth play:

The ball is close to midfield and the attack is aggressively headed toward the goal. A through ball too long goes to the sweeper standing about the penalty mark. The sweeper deliberately kicks the ball wide toward the edge of the penalty area. The ball lacks momentum to clear the area and no defender is there to recover the ball. Attackers realize this and start for the ball. The keeper standing on the goal line about 10 yards _behind_ the sweeper also realizes the situation and is quicker to get to the ball. Based on the 'Advice' shown above as well as the opinion of our local referee administration (who strictly follow the 'Advice') the keeper can only 'boot the ball out of there'. I have heard coaches who agree this is usually not a good idea with 2-3 attackers and defenders closing on the ball. A deflection could put the ball back in the front of the goal. Typically the normal flow of play has the keeper falling on the ball to smother it. If this was the action taken then the opponents would get an IFK. My question is 'Why?' There was no time wasting involved and that was the intent for the change, correct? My thought is more in tune with what the 'Laws' say and I would allow for the keeper to use his hands to play the ball since the ball had not 'been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate'.


I don't understand how the 'Advice' can insert meaning that is not implied by the verbiage in the 'Laws' and that is not supported by the intent - specifically in this case to avoid time wasting. How is taking away a keeper's typical normal tactics in the Spirit of the Game?



I have heard the excuse that this doesn't happen often. I have also heard the excuse that the team usually doesn't convert the IFK so the call doesn't influence the outcome of the game. How do either of these this make bad advice right? Shouldn't the rules for any game - whether they be Laws or Advice - make the directions for play as fair and clear as possible?

The 'Advice' should be re-visited by the appropriate officials and the 'Laws' more directly followed - for both wording and intent. The referee already has great latitude to apply intent in numerous situations and judging whether the ball was deliberately played to the keeper shouldn't be hard. If the 'Advice' wants to add meaning to the 'Law' then I might suggest this sentence:

** The requirement that the ball be 'kicked to' the goalkeeper means only that the the play is to or toward a place where the keeper can legally handle the ball with minimal effort and has no pressure or challenge by an opponent.


Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

I'll weigh in here, in part because if one reads all of the latest answer from Ask A Referee (the official USSF interpretation website) dated Feb. 12, 2009 it says:

USSF answer (February 12, 2009):
We think the Advice is quite clear as it stands but will address the matter here.

Two answers to the first question: (a) Both. "Deliberately kicked" or "kicked deliberately" mean that there was some forethought to the player's action; the player knew where he or she wanted the ball to go and kicked it there. On the other hand, an obvious attempt to clear the ball that happens to run to the 'keeper is not punishable, nor is a ball that is obviously miskicked. (b) "To the goalkeeper" means directly to the goalkeeper or to a place where the goalkeeper can conveniently play the ball.

Second question: If, in the opinion of the referee, ? .

We add a final note, meant solely to clarify for referees (and, unfortunately, many instructors, too) that the phrasing MUST NOT be interpreted as "kicked with the intent that the ball go to the goalkeeper." "Deliberately" modifies "kick" and not the direction (meaning the totality of the direction "to the goalkeeper") which is why the kick must be deliberate and the direction must be deliberate (i. e., not a miskick) but the direction itself doesn't have to be the specific direction of "to the goalkeeper."

I would note in the first paragraph, Mr. Allen notes a ball that is deliberately kicked by a defender in an attempt to clear the ball that happens to run to the keeper is treated the same way as a ball that is miskicked or misdirected - in other words there is NO offense. He also very clearly says in answer to the question posted 'Has the goalkeeper committed an infraction?' - 'If, in the opinion of the referee...'

That can only mean if the referee is of the opinion the ball was meant to be cleared but wasn't for whatever reason (slow kick, miskick, whatever), we don't have the second part of the equation to call a deliberate kick to the keeper. As Ref Weber notes, as the level of skill and age goes down, our judgment of what is and is not a deliberate kick to the goalkeeper must also be adjusted.



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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

So you have issues with USSF advice? My colleagues here as USA referees will of course have an opinion as to its subject matter but I agree it is confusing. I suggest you also explore them with Jim Allen at the official USSF soccer referee site where I believe he would be glad to enlighten you as to the meaning of the advice!
http://www.askasoccerreferee.com/
As a non USA referee I am not bound by the advice but most of it sets a standard that is hard to get away from if you want to advance within their system.

If a ball is deliberately kicked to the keeper the fact one can determine intent when intent was not supposed to be a factor is rather odd. Rationalizing the ball was not truly picked up to waste time it does not address the fact the attacking option this law allows is now variable as an opinion rather than yes or no! Attackers will now pursue such a ball vigorously where in the past this was not the case. The spirit of any law is to make the game fair and exciting. Granted a deflected ball is much different than one deliberately kicked but in whatever decision process you undertake apply it equally at both ends.
Cheers



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Answer provided by Referee Gil Weber

Mr. Schutt, hopefully I can give you a useful answer.

In my opinion your local referees are giving you less than proper instruction, and are interpeting this section of the Laws much too strictly. This is not simply black and white (GK did or did not touch the ball). There is a whole lot of grey in this part of the Laws.

The (smart) referee can and will judge the intent/purpose/thought behind the playing of the ball by a teammate of the GK. The USSF instruction and Advice to Referees are clear in my opinion. They tell us that if the teammate tries to play the ball away (for example, to stop/clear an attack) but only succeeds in misdirecting/miskicking the ball, then in that case the GK may handle it. Similarly, if the defender slide tackles the ball away from the opponent and it was clear to the referee that this was a challenge meant to dispossess the opponent and done without thought as to where the ball might go, the GK can pick it up.

In such instances the ball was not deliberately played (with the foot) to a place where the GK could pick it up. The ball might happen to go to where the GK can pick it up, but it was not directed there for that purpose. Crucial difference.

You describe the defender as trying to kick the ball away toward the side of the penalty area but not hitting it with enough force to go very far. His thought process was clear even if his execution was faulty.

If I were the referee and observed the GK handling that ball I would do nothing as there has been no violation of the Laws (in my opinion, of course).

On the other hand, if the defender simply pushed the ball to the side but it appeared to me that the purpose was only to move it to a place where his GK could get to it first, then if the GK handled the ball I'd blow the whistle and restart with an IFK against the GK's team.

I think your understanding of this section of the Laws is just fine. But you're reading too much into it based on faulty teachings of local (supposed) authorities.

If this happens to you and the GK handles the ball, let them play. If an opponent or mouthy coach shouts an objection just tell them that the kick was misdirected or misplayed, and the GK is allowed to pick up that ball since in your opinion it was not played deliberately to a place where the GK can pick it up.

Hope this helps.
Gil Weber



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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Chuck; you have every reason to be confused. What you quote from Advice is accurate. Also, you are correct that the Law was changed to cut down on time wasting. But we are told by USSF to punish actions that have nothing to do with time wasting. the latest USSF interpretation as to what 'deliberate' means comes from Jim Allen's official Q&A site at ussoccer.com. Here is what he says on Feb 12, 2009:

'We add a final note, meant solely to clarify for referees (and, unfortunately, many instructors, too) that the phrasing MUST NOT be interpreted as "kicked with the intent that the ball go to the goalkeeper." "Deliberately" modifies "kick" and not the direction (meaning the totality of the direction "to the goalkeeper") which is why the kick must be deliberate and the direction must be deliberate (i. e., not a miskick) but the direction itself doesn't have to be the specific direction of "to the goalkeeper."

What the sweeper in your scenario did was deliberately kick the ball. The question becomes, "Did he miskick it or misdirect it?" Sometimes this will depend on the age and skill level of the players.

I don't know the age or skill level in your question. It IS obvious that the sweeper was trying to clear the ball but didn't. This certainly could reasonably be seen as a miskick.

Since the Law was changed to cut down on time wasting ( which it also says in Advice), I would like to see a policy statement from IFAb that the ball must be deliberately kicked TO THE KEEPER with the clear implication that the ball was intended to go TO the keeper.



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