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Question Number: 22511

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/13/2009

RE: Athena Under 17

Paul Hofmann of Smyrna, Ga. USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 22495

Interesting answers as always....I must say I love this website and truly appreciate the efforts that you all put in to make it the valuable resource that it is.
Most interesting is that the responses were roughly a 50/50 split, with Refs McHugh, Wickhan and Maloney agreeing to play on and Refs Dawson, Voshul and Lacy believing an IDFK should have been awarded.
So let me pose the question this way:
To those of you that believe an idfk would be the right call, what would be your response to the coach that asks why you're awarding a free kick when nothing the keeper did violated anything published in any of the laws of the game?
The only law stated that would apply is that the keeper may not use her hands to play a ball deliberately kicked to her by a team mate. This keeper had no infraction of that law. She used her feet to play the ball in accordance with the rules. Any subsequent use of her hands was from a ball that was NOT deliberately kicked to her. Where in the laws does it say that the ball MUST first be played by an opposing player, or hit any other player for that matter. If there is no infraction of any published law, why would you reward the opposing team with an IDFK?
Again, trickery would not apply by any ones stretch of the imagination.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Referee Hoffmann
Thank you for your kind comments. They are appreciated by my colleagues and myself. We are glad to be of help
As you know the law states
' if he touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate'. In other parts of the law it refers to
' touches the ball again with his hands after he has released it from his possession and before it has touched another player'.
As you know in the cases where say the goalkeeper controls the ball with the foot, dribbles it around for a while he/she is not allowed to pick that ball up. Say he/she did a high flick of the ball up into the air the same would apply. Nor does mis control of the ball allow for handling.
Now custom and practise suggests that the last touch has to be off an opponent or a touch that was unintentional off a team mate for the ball to be handled by the keeper. As I stated in my answer I would not give this IDFK but a strict interpretation of the law is that as the last touch of the ball was a deliberate kick by a team mate it requires a reset such as a touch by an opponent or unintentional contact by a team mate or a header, chest, thigh etc for the keeper to handle it.
It is quite an unique situation and IMO as the goalkeeper put the ball genuinely back into play then the 'best' decision was made.
What it does show that the law is not black and white in its implementation. As you say 50% would give the IDFK which is why I gave the advice to goalkeepers to not handle in questionable situations as the ref can call them. What is more important is that the law is known, that the referee makes an informed 'best' decision in the circumstances and that it is applied consistently.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

We thank you for the positive comments. We do take our volunteer postion seriously in that we do try to give correct information.
Make no mistake this is an INDFK infraction!
It COULD be considered trifling but it is NOT doubtful!
If this was a test question and you did not answer INDFK you would be marked wrong.

While I respect my colleagues I believe you are wrong to imply it is NOT an infraction!

They can choose to consider it trifling but you stated opponents were there to challenge then in my opinion it can not be trifling if there is pressure applied that created the mistake or there to take advantage of the mistake. Remember as a non affiliated site we are free to offer opinions but you best refer to national policy when talking absolutes.

If there is an opponent in this equation I will award the indfk every time! If the keeper was back there by themselves on a rainy day with no one near I might choose to consider it trifling and suggest they better be carefull about what they do.

A keeper legally in possession of the ball with their hands has 6 seconds of uncontested possession you just awarded the keeper control of a ball that she had NO legal right to do so under the laws of the game! You have unfairly denied the opposition their right to challenge for a free ball how is that ethical in the neutrality of an official? The keeper was NOT restricted from playing the ball ONLY restricted with the use of the hands! The keeper could have headed the ball or kicked it again but CHOOSE to tactically grab the ball with her hands to prevent ANY opponent from challenging!

If you or a coach makes the assumption that awarding a free kick when nothing the keeper did violated anything published in any of the laws of the game is completely incorrect! An error in understanding the law has occurred! Plus you tend to refer to the law as saying the ball must be played with the feet where in law does it say that??

The laws say CLEARLY the use of the keeper's hands on the ball are not permitted in four specific circumstances! The RESTRICTION for non use of hands is BINDING until it is lifted by an act OTHER than what the keeper can do on their own. It is the same as an offside positioned player, once restricted NOTHING they can do on their own will allow them to become involved!
You will note the law does not pronounce an edict on either situation!

If the keeper has miss kicked this ball into the goal would you award the goal?
And if she used her hands to stop it from entering the goal?

If a keeper has held the ball for 6 seconds and tosses the ball to a nearby team mate who slips and the keeper now realizes an opponent is going to get to the ball so runs after that ball and grabs it before the opponent can get there?

If a keeper after holding on to the ball puts it down to kick it and does exactly what your keeper did, miss kicks this ball high and upon the funny bounce does the same thing and grabs it?

I assume you are going to allow it as nothing in law suggests since she did these by accident it means no law was violated?

This is not just advice it is a clear command, do not use the hands on the ball when it was deliberately kicked to you by a teammate if you are the keeper!

Your mistake does not LIFT the restriction!


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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

Thanks for your kind words. I don't think I can add much to the above. It's been covered pretty well. As I stated in my original answer the 'botched' clearance attempt by the keeper only confuses the issue but the core matter remains the same - IMO. The ball was deliberately played (kicked) to the keeper by a teammate and the keeper subsequently used his/her hands to play the ball devoid of any other players being involved (playing the ball). As far as the question from a coach about 'not violating anything......', I would respond with something along the lines of 'Coach, you are in error on your understanding of that law'. Remember, there are many (if not most) situations that we need to consider in light of the 'big picture' and not just a singular event. If we focus on just the keeper then that presents one picture BUT if we consider the keeper's actions in light of the dynamic play that led to that keeper's actions then we see a different perspective. So, based on where the ball originally came from and how it got there the keeper, IMO, does not have the option of using their hands until such time as another player enters into the dynamic by playing the ball. All the best,

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

Explaining the IFK is easy. The ball was deliberately kicked to a place where the keeper could pick it up. While I believe your original call was the appropriate one, I don't agree with the notion that the keeper's intervening touch of the ball with the foot is the decisive factor.

If the defender deliberately kicks the ball to a spot one yard outside the penalty area, the keeper may not run to the spot, play the ball into the penalty area with the feet, and then pick the ball up with the hands. The keeper's play of the ball with the foot does not insulate the use of the hands.

For me, the key is that the keeper miskicked the ball in trying to kick it away. This would not be an offense is the defender miskicked the ball; IMO it is a doubtful and trifling infringement when the keeper miskicks the ball.

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Answer provided by Referee MrRef

USSF response to a similar set of circumstances note they agree with the assesment it is an infraction but could be considered trifling the reasoning though withholding the challenge not timewasting is the consideration!

USSF Quote
Defender under pressure kicks the ball back to the keeper, it is a
crappy rainy day, the keeper misplays the ball trying to kick it away but it bounces up an into the air only a short distance away where it bounces and as attackers and other defenders are now close at hand the keeper chooses to grab this ball with the hands.

Is this an INDFK offence?

Can it be ignored as the keeper tried to do the right thing the first
time but failed?

Should it be ignored if a pursuing opponent was there to challenge
but prevented because the keeper WAS able to use the hands?

Is the ONLY reason to make this call if time wasting was the reason?

Does the intention of the passer or the intention of the keeper matter?

USSF answer (November 16, 2009):
There is no issue here at all if the scenario is to be given its face
value meaning. A teammate kicks the ball back to his goalkeeper -- no violation.

The goalkeeper kicks the ball (badly, but that doesn't matter) -- no
violation. The goalkeeper subsequently handles the ball -- since this
occurred directly (no intervening play of the ball by anyone ELSE) --

In short, there is no issue that a violation has occurred. The only
question is whether it was trifling or should be whistled. This HAS
to be decided by the referee based on the circumstances of play,
taking risks, maintaining flow, etc. The only fact bearing on the
matter is that the goalkeeper DID illegally take hand control of the
ball under pressure from the opponents. In other words, he illegally
withheld the ball from challenge, which is what this infringement is
all about. Accordingly, although the decision must be up to the
referee, the scenario tends to favor whistling this indirect free
kick foul.

Referees often make the mistake of treating this as an issue
involving time-wasting when, in fact, the central issue is unfairly
withholding the ball from challenge.

And, no, the 'intention' of the passer is not relevant to this
decision because that was resolved when the action was determined to be a violation.
end USSF quote
From our pitch to your pitch in the spirit of fair play!

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

I somehow missed getting into this and you're from Smyrna!! In Marietta we look at things differently, just kidding.
Here's what I believe and also believe is what we are taught by USSF. First your assumption that we should only punish this if time wasting is involved is not what USSF says. Although I agree with you that this is why the rule originated, we have to punish the keeper if she unfairly prevents the opponents a chance at the ball.
So, let's look at the scenario: A teammate of the keeper deliberately kicks the ball to the keeper, no foul. The keeper then kicks the ball although sloppily, no foul. Then the keeper in the face of attacking players handles the ball and that IS a foul. Just because she originally kicked the ball, the ball must still be touched by another player in order for her to be allowed to handle the ball and that did not happen here.

So, I'd answer the coach that he misunderstood the Law and that just because the keeper first played the ball with her feet, it's common knowledge that she still may NOT handle the ball unless the ball touches another player first. There is no doubt that an infraction has occurred. The only real question is can we overlook this as being a trifling infraction. Given the circumstances, I'd say no. Punish the handling with an IDFK to the opponents.

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Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 22511
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

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