David Najarian, a parent, asks:
Defender plays the ball back to his keeper with his feet. Keeper stumbles and it appears the ball will head into net. So, keeper grabs it with his hands. Is it an IFK for keeper illegally handling the ball, or a PK and red card for keeper for preventing a goal with a deliberate handling? My initial reaction is IFK since a keeper can never be called for deliberate handling within the penalty area. But I think I could also argue it the other way.
Trust your instincts. Your “initial reaction” is correct — IFK, no red card.
We clearly have what is commonly (though incorrectly) called a “passback violation” — a defender plays the ball deliberately with the foot, followed directly by the goalkeeper handling the ball. And, yes, the Law specifies an indirect free kick (IFK) for this offense, taken from where the goalkeeper illegally handled the ball. As you describe the scenario, because the ball apparently was headed for the goal, if the goalkeeper had handled the ball outside the penalty area, this would have been a DFK (for the handling offense) and a red card (for the OGSO-by-handling misconduct). But this goalkeeper was inside his penalty area and Law 12 says that the OGSO-by-handling offense does not apply under these circumstances.
Frankly, we don’t think there is anything here that would support an argument going “the other way”! Note that we said the offense is “commonly (though incorrectly)” called a passback violation. This foul has been the subject of (now) 20 questions and answers and most of them have turned on a basic misunderstanding of the offense. An answer back in 2011 stated the issue succinctly:
The offense rests on three events occurring in the following sequence:
– The ball is kicked (played with the foot, not the knee, thigh, or shin) by a teammate of the goalkeeper,
– This action is deemed to be deliberate, rather than a deflection or miskick, and
– The goalkeeper handles the ball directly (no intervening touch of play of the ball by anyone else)
When, in the opinion of the referee, these three conditions are met, the violation has occurred. It is not necessary for the ball to be “passed,” it is not necessary for the ball to go “back,” and it is not necessary for the deliberate play by the teammate to be “to” the goalkeeper.