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Question Number: 34193

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/11/2021

RE: Rec Adult

Mark of West Pymble, New South Wales Australia asks...


Today in my son's senior game, the opposition deliberately passed the ball back to their goalkeeper but misdirected it causing the keeper to have to use his hands to prevent the ball from going into the goal. The referee awarded an indirect free kick to my son's team, on the 6 yard box, and gave the oppositon GK a yellow card. Was this the correct action to take?


Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Mark,

The indirect free kick is correct - the defender deliberately kicked the ball to the keeper the fact that it wasn't a great kick was unfortunate, but doesn't change anything. That's different to situations where, say, the defender tries to clear the ball but scuffs the kick and sends it to the keeper. What's important is whether the keeper was the intended recipient.

For an indirect free kick offence by the defence inside the Goal Area (6 yard box), the IFK is moved directly out to the edge of the GA, and defenders remain on the line (and not one heel there and lunging forwards either!).

So, the final question is the card - and the referee got this wrong. The LOTG specifically states that a GK cannot receive a card for any handling related offence inside their own Penalty Area (p106). So, the card cannot be given - though I know this is a part of law misunderstood by many. I know some referees try to make some argument that it's DOGSO...but....that's irrelevant

Your keeper made the right decision - an IFK is obviously better than a goal, and the referee made the right decision in awarding the free kick, but not issuing the card.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Mark,
it is true that a keeper is not permitted under the LOTG to deliberately pick up or handle the ball inside their penalty area if that ball is deliberately kicked to him by a teammate.
The correct restart is indeed an INDFK from point of hand/ball contact and if it was in the goal area then moved straight back until positioned at the outer edge of the 6-yard goal area parallel to the goal line.

While we do not LOOK for gotcha, we also can not reward mistakes. The errant passback has a handling RESTRICTION by the keeper-ONLY- if it was deliberately kicked by a teammate to the keeper and not classified as nondeliberate action or a deliberate kick but not to the keeper

The word misdirected implied it was the fault of the kicker making a deliberate kick, that is a bad backpass, not that this was a tackle to strip the ball off an attacker and it was redirected towards the keeper or that any opponent got a touch to it in the way back even if inadvertently or that ball was meant to be cleared out into touch or another teammate & wind-assisted it curved back?

You are certain the card was not shown for dissent but ONLY for the handling and the keeper cautioned for saving a goal with their hands? That after all is his job. It was just that he was not supposed to use the hands, on this rare occasion. If the match report shows that the card was shown in error for USB handling or a form of DOGSO it is plausible it could be rescinded if it counted cumulatively to any form of discipline!


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mark
The key to this situation rests on whether it was in fact a deliberate kick to the goalkeeper by a team mate or if it was a miskick that ended up in the goalkeeper having to make a save.
If it was in fact a certain deliberate kick to the goalkeeper that was poorly executed then it is an IDFK from where the goalkeeper touched the ball with his hands or if that happened inside the goal area the IDFK is taken from the 6 yard line. If it was an unintentional miskick then there was no offence.

Law 12 tells us that "If the goalkeeper handles the ball inside their penalty area when not permitted to do so, an indirect free kick is awarded but there is no disciplinary sanction."
So in your example the IDFK was correct based on your description yet there should not have been any card. That means no yellow or red card even if a goal was denied.

I remember a few season ago a defender kicked a ball from a poor goal kick by his goalkeeper. I was not sure what he was trying to do yet it ended up heading straight back towards goal and the goalkeeper had to knock the ball over the crossbar. I awarded a corner kick and there was not much if any complaint about it as it did not look like an deliberate intentional kick to the goalkeeper just a mis-kick.
Have a look at this video
Both of these should not have been called as in the first one it is obviously clear that it was a miskick and in the second one it is a tackle for the ball that could go anywhere yet goes back to the goalkeeper who makes a save. It does not look to me that the defender's intention was a deliberate kick to the goalkeeper just a tackle of the ball away from an attacker.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mark,
You say that the ball was deliberately 'passed' to the goalkeeper but you don't say how it was passed, nor why you think it was deliberately done. So I feel I should make two clarifications. Firstly, for it to be an offence for the keeper to use their hands, the ball has to be kicked - if the pass was made with any other part of the body, there is no offence. Secondly, the referee also has to be convinced that the player's motive in kicking the ball, was to direct it to their goalie. If the referee is in doubt over the player's intent, they should not give this as an offence.

Assuming that the ball was actually kicked and if the referee is sure it was intended for the keeper then (and only then) an indirect free kick is the correct decision.

As my colleagues have said, the keeper should not have received a caution for this The law states this quite clearly, as follows:

"If the goalkeeper handles the ball inside their penalty area when not permitted to do so, an indirect free kick is awarded but there is no disciplinary sanction."

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Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34193
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