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Question Number: 29047

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 12/11/2014

RE: Youth-Adult rec and comp Other

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

This question is a follow up to question 29043

On the question of trickery: here's a scenario. It's a defensive free kick from just inside the penalty area. The keeper flicks the ball to a defender who is just outside the area, so the defender can head it back to the hands of the keeper? It was the keeper who initiated the play, not the defender by himself.

Also note that the ball is not in play until it clears the areaŽ so what happened before that could/should be irrelevant.

If the above is legalŽ then would a similar move be legal during active play? I'm thinking yes, as the opposition is free to intervene.

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

This is legal. What is considered trickery is the attempt by a field player to get around law 12 by flicking the ball with the foot and then using another part of the body to deliver the ball to the keeper.

Trickery is now extremely rare. It was an important part of the transition when the law changed from the time when defenders could (and did) routinely pass the ball back to the keeper. But, that part of the game has now been so thoroughly stamped out that there are not many active players who remember when it was lawful to do it. My experience is that such 'trickery' is usually limited to young players who just learned the skill of flipping ball to head and are shocked to learn that they can't do it in the match.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
This is not trickery in that the ball has been played to a team mate who then chooses to head the ball back. I suspect it won't happen as it requires skill, the ball is likely to be challenged for with little to be gained compared to the risk taken. The goalkeeper will be closed down quickly so he has six seconds to release the ball.
In exceptional situations where in the opinion of the referee he considers it to be circumvention then he uses the law to deal with it. As the ball was not in play until it left the penalty area the only restart that is possible in law is a retake after the goalkeeper has been cautioned for USB. That caution delay is probably another reason to let play continue and get ultra strict on the 6 seconds.
It is pretty rare event and I have not seen it in play or online so its not going to test referees very often if at all.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Barry,

In most of the, what if, vague theory questions, the answers fit in between it COULD be, but does it NEED to be?
Is it truly a define circumvent? In my opinion, no. Is it trifling or doubtful? Most likely! IS it dumb? ABSOLUTELY
Whether a player and a keeper playing toss the ball to the head and back again in live play is different than a restart in flicking the ball to the head and back again, where in point of fact they could resume playing toss to the head and back again if no opponent decided to challenge could be construed as unusual and fit the circumvent ideal ITOOTR it would not be incorrect to award the INDFK and caution.

However, if we can not figure out who gets the caution, or where is the INDFK restart for this caution, was or is there an offence? ITOOTR will factor into what an individual referee may choose to see this as blatant subterfuge and deceitful or just very bad tactical awareness.

I have refereed for thousands of games and the only real value I can recollect of multiple players trying to get the ball into the hands of the keeper on a restart was on a narrow field, during a throw in, where the thrower tosses the ball to a teammate, who heads that ball to the keeper, whose punt out was far more impressive than a throw in from the defending corner area. The opposition was there to challenge so I never called it and it worked beautifully twice before it did not and the opposition scored!

If we consider the why aspect of players doing these sort of unusual arrangements as USB or simply innovative ways of using up time. There will be those who will think this is a circumvent and will want to do something just not sure where or what restart we can arrive at if we consider who is guilty? Sort of like the ball not yet in play on your version of a goal or defensive free kick out of the area? Would you retake? Would you caution? Would you award an INDFK outside the PA? The distance and skill in doing what is required is so fraught with risk it seems such a poor tactical arrangement. The risk to reward ratio is so unappealing, once again to do so is ludicrous and has no place in the thinking part of a player's brain.

I can tell you the ONLY circumvents I have ever called or seen called in the thousands of matches I have done or for that matter watched is a foot to head flick by the defender who was cautioned and an indfk awarded from where he did it! I did this once in youth (seen it twice), once in opens men's play . Funny never seen it in a ladies or girls youth match?

The irony is I have seen FAR more incorrectly deemed offences for balls being passed back to the keeper than the need to find a circumvent. I recall.
defenders getting the ball brought down off the chest to knee back to head and nod it back to his keeper
defenders on their knees or scrambling on the ground lunged to head or knee a ball towards the keeper
defenders who headed a ball throw in by the opposition towards their keeper
ALL of these were NOT a circumvent yet all of these resulted in INDFKS against although not all cautioned by referees who simply did not understand the LOTG.


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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy


I take your question as an academic 'what if' query. I suspect it originates from creative imagination rather than actual play. Whichever the case, it deserves an answer.

My simple answer is that when the free kick was taken, the opponents would have had the opportunity to be active in that play therefore it is not trickery. In fact, it is pretty trivial since the goalie could have simply kicked it upfield from the free kick and it makes little difference if the goalie punts it or kicks it. All that happened is they changed a free kick to a punt.

The scenario, where in live play, a full back himself flips it up for the sole purpose of getting it to his goalie enabling him to pick up the ball, is different. That is creating a punt being taken.

This question is fun for a rum grog and Christmas cheer discussion but does not deserve another chapter in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

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