I have a clarification question regarding the goalie pass back rule. I’ve always understood the rule to be based on intent.

Which would imply that a goalie is permitted to handle a ball that was unintentionally passed back to him/her.

To be an intentional pass back, does the intent have to be a pass back to the goalie, or simply the act of passing back.

Specifically, in a recent game the goalie was inside the goal box. A midfielder passed the ball back from near midfield to a defender at the top corner of the penalty box. The defender never touched the ball, but followed it along the inside outer edge of the penalty box.

The goalie then ran out of the goal box to call off the defender and picked up the ball.

The intent of the midfielder was not to pass back to the goalie, but it was an intentional backwards pass. Does this qualify as a pass back infraction?

USSF answer (May 24, 2010):
Your perception of the concept of punishment for the ball kicked to the goalkeeper is flawed but certainly understandable for anyone other than a referee — many of whom also seem to remain unaware.

The Law tells us that the goalkeeper may not pick up or otherwise play with the hands any ball deliberately kicked — as opposed to miskicked in an attempt to clear the ball — by a teammate. It makes no difference that this particular ball ran all the way from near midfield to the goalkeeper, it’s still a foul for him or her to pick it up.

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