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Question Number: 31461

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/17/2017

Jeff B of Boulder, CO United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 31440

In the referenced question, the ball was deliberately kicked by a defensive player and went to the keeper who picked it up (though arguably it was not originally *intended for* the keeper). In a previous question on the same subject (, Refs Voshol and Dawson both seemed to indicate that this was a violation regardless of intent, though Refs McHugh and Mueller thought otherwise *if* the pass was not *intended* to go to the keeper (presuming one could determine the intent).

Now, Ref Dawson at least seems to have changed his mind? Or at least I'm not seeing any important distinction in the two situations.

As hinted at in the reference question, the askasoccerreferee site also dealt with the question a few years back (when it was still considered authoritative for USSF) and is very clear on the interpretation: ('The Law tells us that the goalkeeper may not pick up or otherwise play with the hands any ball deliberately kicked [...] by a teammate.')

Has the interpretation of this act changed? Is the old USSF interpretation considered to have been 'wrong'? Does anyone even know what the actual interpretation by IFAB is or what is the consensus of the international referee community?

Of all the grey areas in the law, this is probably the one most frequently seen by those of us in the trenches. It happens once or twice in every park every weekend.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Jeff,
The LOTG do not state a deliberate kick of the ball by a teammate is not permitted to be handled by the keeper. Nor does the USSF reasoning apply to FIFA or IFAB it would be the other way around..
I want to put this in context a defender who beats an attacker to the ball deliberately kicks a ball with the full intent on kicking it away from the attacker into safety blasts it back towards his keeper even if the keeper might not be his intended recipient there will be eyes raised should the keeper use his hands on that ball as it was deliberately kicked with the foot TO a place where Keeper has the ability to play the ball. The resulting use of hands could easily command an INDFK given the attacker right to pursue and challenge maybe compromised

Now take a slide tackle whereby a defender stripes the ball off an attacker that is headed into the goal, it is a deliberate kick but it was NOT intended to the keeper and any referee who thinks an INDFK should be awarded based on that fact has not correctly understood the reasoning the law exists.

The old interpretation was how the USSF decided to explain it to their members. I maintain that it is not as clear-cut as it is without the word TO. The difference between a wind assisted miskick versus a deliberate pass to another team mate is in the reasoning the LOTG was altered and a BIG difference in kicking the ball TO an AREA where the keeper can get TO the ball if such a pass was not directed right towards him.

I added the bit about if the ball drifted further say into the top corner would you on THIS occasion call it an INDFK given it was simply a wind assisted clearance gone wrong. The GREATEST authority a referee has beyond one of safety is to distinguish between when the LOTG require intervention and when they do not.

I also added that the video call was, in my opinion, more of gotcha call because it was more of a miskick with a high wind than an intended clearance back towards the keeper or to a spot he could get to it., however that it was NOT incorrect to do so if the CR felt the keeper was well aware of the circumstances. I also made note of the video voice that said, because the ball was off the foot of a teammate as a reason to ENSURE it was an INDFK was incorrect! There is a reason the word TO is included

His reputation His decision His match

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jeff
This is what the Law says ** An indirect free kick is awarded if a goalkeeper, inside their penalty area, commits any of the following offences: # touches the ball with the hands after it has been deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by a team-mate **
That is pretty clear in my opinion particularly when we consider the import of the law which was to prevent the ball being constantly withheld from challenge by constant passing to the goalkeeper which includes a place for the GK to pick the ball up either directly or indirectly such as after dribbling the ball So for it to be an offence the ball has to be deliberately kicked and TO the goalkeeper. That has been my position throughout and the USSF former triangle position to describe it IMO got lost in implementation with the words ** does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or misdirected.** being ignored.
I would safely say that 99.999 time that the ball is deliberately kicked when the ball comes off the foot with the exception of a deflection so we are then left with the interpretation of TO. Let me show this video which is somewhat grainy yet it outlines the incorrect implementation of the former USSF position
Yes the ball was deliberately kicked by a defender yet it is absolutely clear that it was not TO the goalkeeper but misdirected. That is not an IDFK under any interpretation even the USSF former one.
So in the previous question we know that the ball was deliberately kicked yet was it to the goalkeeper or was it misdirected? There is sufficient doubt as to what was intended and whether the ball was meant for #White 2 and overran due to the wind and surface we are unsure. If the kicker shouted keeper then different matter entirely or # White 2 was not present then also a different situation. If it is doubtful then referees should not call the offence. As the former ATR stated ** This portion of the Law was written to help referees cope with timewasting tactics by teams, not to punish players who are playing within the Spirit of the Game. **

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jeff,
I was not involved with the site at the time of the previous question you refer to but I think you are right in pointing to the old USSF advice on this as the main reason for the variance in the answers back then.

Whether the USSF interpretation on this is now considered wrong is not something I am really authorised to determine but it is certainly no longer applicable as the 'Advice to Referees' document has been discontinued and its provisions need no longer be followed.

Personally, I always disagreed with it and the reason is pretty much evidenced (for me) by your summation of it that it said ''the goalkeeper may not pick up or otherwise play with the hands any ball deliberately kicked [...] by a teammate.')'' Missing from this is the additional factor clearly stated in the IFAB wording that not just any old ball deliberately kicked by a team mate and then subsequently handled by the keeper is an offence but only a ball ''deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper.''

If the IFAB had wanted the law to be interpreted the way the USSF used to do, they could simply have left out the words ''to the goalkeeper'' - but they didn't and for me that is a telling clue as to how this part of the law was meant to be interpreted.

And while you're right that intent is sometimes difficult to judge (though equally, sometimes it's quite easy) it is something the wording of the law requires the referee to do, since it uses the word 'deliberately.'

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