Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 31918

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/18/2017

RE: Rec Adult

Russell of Sydney, Australia asks...

IN the UCL City v Napoli match, city had a string of chances that lead to a point where the ball was stopped on the line by Napoli.

You could sense that the Napoli defender wanted the keeper to gather the ball, however, they both then look to be concerned about the possible IDF that may have eventuated (from picking up a ball played directly from a teammate) and the defender clears the ball away.

Questions is, if the keeper did pick it up, would we have to follow the letter of the law and award the IDK to City, or, call on the 'spirit of the game' provision to say, nothing in it - this is not why the law exists.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Russell,
Don't forget that given the wording is 'deliberately kicked to the keeper', then by the letter of the law the keeper needs to be the intended recipient.

Trapping the ball with the intent of the keeper picking it up would fall into that category.

But sometimes - say, in a crowded penalty area - a defender will trap on it and the keeper spots the ball and dives on it. This would not be an offence.

So how does it apply to this scenario? The first touch, I'd rather consider that a save - I don't think the defender had a lot of control over where the ball would go. Had the keeper then grabbed the ball, I'd strongly argue that no foul has been committed. The defender then made a second touch on the ball - was this intended for the keeper? Probably not, but I wouldn't argue too hard if you said otherwise.

But you're right - intent of the law comes into it. It's mostly there to prevent timewasting tactics of putting the ball into the keeper's possession. It isn't really there to punish keepers for grabbing a ball that a defender has saved. Now, sure, there might be a similar scenario where a free kick is deserved, but I just don't think there's enough certainty that the defender's second touch was intended for the keeper that I would be wanting to see a free kick if the keeper handled it.

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
The misnomer of a backpass can be unhelpful in that the direction of the pass/ kicks is irrelevant. So the ball could be deliberately kicked forward and the rule could still apply
Now having said that in this situation the question did not arise as the ball was kicked away. Now context is important and the fact that it could be interpreted as a save would negate the deliberate kick to the goalkeeper. The referee has to consider a number of matters which are
1. Is it a deliberate kick
2. Is the kick to the goalkeeper or a place for the goalkeeper to pick it up.
3. Is it a save etc
In games we constantly see mis kicks, rebounds, saves off defenders that end up being picked up by goalkeepers. Those are not penalised and perhaps on an odd occasion an outlier event has to be considered. Outliers never make good law decisions so best to ignore as doubtful in my opinion,
A recent question by our regular contributor Aaron posted this video
The IDFK was called and the referee opined that there was a deliberate kick in there. Personally these doubtful ones as stated should be let slide as it causes many problems for the referee and the game. It is not a time wasting tactic and the GK has to put the ball back into play promptly so the team has not been denied anything really within the spirit or intent of the law. Had say the GK dribbled the ball away to the corner of the penalty area and waited until challenged before picking the call up could and should be dealt with under the Law.
I personally do not like what has been coined Gotcha refereeing. The law is to used to prevent a team using up time when the ball has been deliberately kicked to the GK and picked up. Once there is a doubt then referees should see that it is doubtful and trifling.
I believe that had the GK dived on this ball in City v Napoli the referee would not have stopped play. Had he done so it would have caused all sorts of problems including dissent, setting up the IDFK, encroachment from the goal line and turned what is a trifling matter into a key match moment.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Russell,
The offence of deliberately kicking the ball to the keeper is one of the few situations in the law where a referee still has to rule on intent and I would say the 'spirit of the law' is also a factor to be considered. As was stated in the IFAB meeting minutes when this amendment was brought in, it was seen as a way to avoid the time wasting tactics that had become prevalent in the late 1980's and early 90's.

So for me, if there is doubt about the player's intent, I would be inclined not to penalise for such a scenario - certainly on a one-off occurrence. Having said that though, subject to pattern and repetition of the behaviour or obvious body language and/or non-verbal communication that makes it clear the ball has been deliberately played with the foot in order that the keeper can get the ball, it might become more evident that an offence has actually occurred.

If I suspected intent, I would probably still start off by giving a verbal warning on the first occurrence (unless blatantly obvious) before penalising if the same actions are repeated.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 31918
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.