I have a question about goalkeeper parrying. In FIFA’s Laws of the Game 2008/2009 (on-line version), in the section “Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees”, it states on p. 111:

A goalkeeper is not permitted to touch the ball with his hand inside his own penalty area in the following circumstances: 

• if he handles the ball again after it has been released from his possession and has not touched any other player: 
– the goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball by touching it with any part of his hands or arms except if the ball rebounds accidentally from him, for example, after he has made a save 
– possession of the ball includes the goalkeeper deliberately parrying the ball 

In all my years of playing, coaching, and now refereeing soccer, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a referee award an indirect free kick for parrying, although I am pretty sure I’ve seen goalkeepers parry the ball. In fact, the just other other day I saw the following in an English Premier League match: ball is crossed into the penalty area from the flank; goalkeeper goes up for it in a crowd, but facing no direct challenge from at attacking player (i.e. keeper is the only one jumping up for the ball) ; goalkeeper uses his hands, almost like a volleyball set, to direct the ball beyond the far post where there is nothing but green grass; goalkeeper follows his “self set” and collects the ball in his hands. Referee allows play to go on.

Wouldn’t this be a prime example of parrying? If yes, shouldn’t the referee have awarded an indirect free kick to the attacking team? If no, could you explain what parrying is (and maybe why it’s almost never called)? Thanks a lot!

USSF answer (March 30, 2009):
We cannot comment on decisions taken by referees in other countries, particularly in top-level play. We can only suggest that whether the play was a parry or a true clearance of the ball, the decision can be made only in the opinion of the referee on the game. You or I don’t have any input in the referee’s decision.

Referees do need to remember that goalkeepers are sneaky and actively attempt to deceive the referee as to parrying vs. deflection. Even if the decision is that the initial contact was a parry, followed directly by a second contact with the hand, the referee always has the option to decide that it didn’t matter enough to stop play for the offense. A trifling offense at best.

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