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Question Number: 29559

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/26/2015

RE: Competitive Adult

James Eccles of Barrow in Furness, Cumbria England asks...

Among a few questionable decisions given against our team in a game today one stood out in particular regarding the back pass rule. A player on our team passed the ball back to one of our defenders stood on the edge of our area. As he was under pressure from an opposing player he chose to let the ball run past him, without touching it, and used his body to shield the ball so our keeper could pick it up. The referee then gave an indirect free kick against us as he felt the ball had been deliberately passed back to the keeper. When we tried arguing the fact the pass back was intended for the defender and not the keeper, and the defender in question had not actually touched the ball, the referee claimed the fact the defender let the ball go through to the keeper was tantamount to passing it back himself regardless of whether he touched it or not. In the end it didn't affect the result but I was just wondering if someone could clear this issue up as to whether the ref was right or not just for future reference really. Many thanks

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Even though the defender dummied the ball, the pass originally came from one of your players. So the goalkeeper is not allowed to use his hands. The ball was deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper, it just passed another player along the way. It doesn't matter who the player intended the ball to go to - the ref can't read the player's mind. He can only see what happened, that the goalkeeper picked it up. So the ref got the call correct, but couldn't explain it correctly.

Alternatively, the defender who didn't play the ball might have been guilty of impeding, depending on how far he let the ball roll to get to the keeper. This would not apply if the defender stayed within playing distance of the ball.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi James,
although we often point out the back pass restrictions originated out of a dislike for timewasting tactics the actual letter of the law specifically states a keeper is NOT allowed the use of his hands if the ball is deliberately kicked to him by a teammate.

The secondary reasoning aside from time wasting has us promoting attacking play by limiting the keeper from use of his hands!
While we are pretty liberal with the interpretation what ' TO the keeper' implies we do NOT actually judge ...intent... we judge deliberate actions because as non mind readers we do not necessarily know what the intention was.

The dummy by your player has allowed a DELIBERATELY KICKED BALL BY A TEAM MATE TO GO DIRECTLY TO THE KEEPER. The dummy is not a deliberate kick, it is a deliberate tactic, Although the dummy does not count as a deliberate kick, neither though does it change the fact, it was a teammate's deliberate kick that sent it back in the KEEPER'S general direction either towards him or to a place he could choose to play it!

Shielding a ball requires the ball be within playing distance about 2 steps at the speed of play to not be guilty of impeding or possibly holding if contact. Mind you a defender can hold his ground if he is already there, he just cannot adjust to move INTO the line of flight or path of the opponent at the last second.

I tend to consider if the opposition is unfairly affected by not seeing an opposing team mate's deliberately kicked ball towards the keeper or a place on the field he is the one likely to play it as a restricted ball for the use of his hands. If I see opposing players in pursuit, thinking to capitalize on a poor pass back (team mate's deliberately kicked ball towards the keeper) it tends to be viewed as a possible INDFK infraction rather than a trifling illegal handling infraction which could be overlooked because it has no actual detrimental effect on ongoing play

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi James
As you know the Laws of the Game state that it is an offence for the goalkeeper to touch the ball with his hands after the ball has been deliberately kicked to him by a team mate.
The offence rests on three events occurring in the following sequence:
The ball is kicked (played with the foot, not the knee, thigh, head, chest) by a teammate of the goalkeeper,
The action is deemed to be deliberate and intentional, rather than a deflection or an mis-kick which is not intended for goalkeepers direction.
The goalkeeper handles the ball directly (no intervening touch of play of the ball by anyone else). Handling the ball involves retrieving the ball or making a save with one or both hands.
In this scenario we know for certain that the ball was deliberately kicked by a team mate and that the goalkeeper used his hands to pick up the ball. Now the extra part is that we have another team mate in the sequence who dummies the ball.
Had the referee said that he was not a mind reader and that the original deliberate kick could have been destined for the goalkeeper would that have made a difference?
Now the actual wording of Law 12 ** if he touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate**. To him has been interpreted as also including a place where the goalkeeper can pick the ball up so a ball kicked to the side of the penalty area has the same restriction of not touching the ball with the hand as the ball being directly kicked to the keeper.
Now we know that referees look to only penalise deliberate breaches in these cases. We see deliberate kicks in tackles go unpunished, we see miskicks that were deliberate also go unpunished along with dives on the ball by the goalkeeper in scrambles when the last kick was by a team mate. However there is sufficient doubt here that the ball was destined fir the goalkeeper and that what was intended by the kicker. The goalkeeper must have been very close to the defender for the dummy to be played as otherwise if he wasn't then there is a holding foul by the defender placing his body in the path of the opponent when the ball was not within playing distance. If the GK is that close which is within playing distance of the defender then the pass TO HIM is a real possibility. The lesson here for the goalkeeper is to not ask the question and simply clear the ball with the foot. The answer then does not have to be given by the referee on the day. Perhaps on another day in a different sequence with a pass that is genuinely misdirected that the goalkeeper has to make a save which the referee will deem as not deliberately kicked to him.

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

If the defender intended the ball to go to the keeper, then it was the correct call. If the defender intended it to go to another player, but the keeper found it first...then it is not a violation. It is hard for the referee to read minds, but it sounds like this is the correct call.

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