Christopher, an adult amateur player, asks:
The goalkeeper received the ball at his feet outside of the penalty box from an opposing player. Goalkeeper dribbles into penalty box, then dribbles outside penalty box, dribbles back inside penalty box and handles the ball. Referee awarded indirect free kick for handling. Correct?
We love these easy ones. No.
OK, you would probably like an explanation. As described, the goalkeeper’s running around into, out of, and then back into the penalty area is irrelevant. We are mystified as to the indirect free kick restart because (a) it was not handling and, (b) if it had been, the restart would have been a direct free kick, not an indirect free kick. The only time the goalkeeper could have committed a handling offense is if he picked up the ball when he was outside his penalty area.
On the other hand (but the answer is still No), perhaps the indirect free kick was not for handling but for a so-called “pass-back” violation. Unfortunately, this also fails the “look to the Law” test because the goalkeeper’s handling was not directly from a deliberate kick from a teammate — it was from an opponent. Note that it would have been an indirect free kick for a pass-back violation even though the goalkeeper played around dribbling the ball back and forth inside and outside the penalty area if it had come from a teammate because “directly” in soccer terminology means no one else touched/played the ball prior to the goalkeeper and so the goalkeeper would in fact have handled a ball, despite all that dribbling around, directly from the teammate.
So, we have an error in applying the Laws of the Game no matter how the scenario is interpreted. If the ball had come from an opponent, it would have been an indirect free kick, but it didn’t come from a teammate. If the goalkeeper had handled the ball while he was dribbling about outside the penalty area, it would have been a handling offense but not an indirect free kick restart … and his handling of the ball occurred inside the penalty area so it can’t have been a handling offense.