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Question Number: 33792

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 12/3/2019

RE: Competetive Under 19

Joshua Pierce of Wixom, Michigan United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 33514

I have a question to further clarify the change in the rule about goalkeeper handballs. If, as a goalkeeper, I receive a deliberate backpass from a teammate, and I attempt to take a touch in order to settle the ball in front of me (as opposed to trying to clear the ball or return it to play), and the ball slips past or under my foot towards the goal, may I then handle the ball with my hands?

If so, does it matter if the ball misses my foot completely (perhaps it's a bouncing back pass and bounces over my foot), or just barely touches my foot and goes past me?

Also, if I attempt to settle the ball at my feet, and the ball ends up going a few yards in front of me towards an attacker within the box, may I then handle the ball before the attacker reaches the ball?

I am asking this specific question because, in all honesty, I am not very skilled with my feet, and want to make sure I know when I am able to handle the ball after a failed clearance or failed first touch. Thanks

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Joshua,
the infraction for a keeper mishandling the ball illegally is often mistakenly referred to as a back pass (deliberate kick by a teammate using his foot or a direct throw in) . This is because all other body parts can be used to pass the ball back to the keeper including the head, so the words, back pass, do not fit all the time. Neither is the direction of that pass really relevant just most often the keeper is closer to his goal line than the passer due to positioning. The RESTRICTION occurs the moment the referee has determined the ball was deliberately kicked with the foot by the teammate TO the keeper. INTENT is key here, unlike the majority of most fouls. That said the keeper although restricted from handling i still permitted to play the ball he JUST CAN NOT use the hands. The key point here is to realize that restriction of non use of hands does NOT elapse over time . The ball MUST be contacted by another player OTHER than the keeper for that no handling restriction to vanish. Misplaying that ball or having it roll on by does NOT rest that restriction, Any touch of the ball using the hands by the keeper INSIDE the PA will be seen as an INDFK offence should it occur . Outside the PA it would be a DFK!

There might be some confusion here because FIFA has stated that should a keeper misplay a legally handled ball he would not be subject to a 2nd touch foul if he misjudged or mishandled said ball as in dropping it then picking it up . The keeper would be expected though to quickly get to releasing that ball given it is taking all of 6 seconds.


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Joshua,
The law says that it is an indirect free kick offence if a goalkeeper, inside their own penalty area, touches the ball with the hands after a deliberate kick to them by a team-mate, ''unless the goalkeeper has clearly kicked or attempted to kick the ball to release it into play.''

The explanation for this given by the IFAB is that:

''When the GK clearly kicks or tries to kick the ball into play, this shows no intention to handle the ball so, if the 'clearance' attempt is unsuccessful, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball without committing an offence''

Since, according to both the law and the explanation, the exception only applies when the goalkeeper has tried to release the ball into play or made an attempted clearance, and a failed control of the ball is neither of these things, to me this means that in the scenarios you envisage, a keeper would be penalised if they subsequently touched the ball with the hands.

As ref McHugh says, as a general rule if you're not sure whether you're allowed to handle the ball, it's best not to.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Joshua
Thanks for the question.
It must be an unsuccessful kick or an attempt to kick the ball to release it into play for the the goalkeeper to be allowed handle the ball from a deliberate kick from a team mate to him inside the penalty area.
Mis-control of the ball would not be a reset allowing subsequently handling by the GK. so it would have to be a clear attempt at kicking the ball that goes astray say up in the air, away from the GK.
Here are two examples of what is intended in the new Law
It is obvious that they both are unsuccessful kicks rather than mis-control which is entirely different.
So an attempt to control to settle the ball which goes astray is not a reset so the restriction would still apply.
Here is another video
This would NOT be a reset and the restriction on handling would still apply even if the GK turned and went after the ball immediately. There is no attempt to kick the ball.
My advice is that if in doubt do not handle the ball as you might not like the decision.

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