I recently stopped play to issue a caution for unsporting behavior, the ball was in the possession of the goal keeper at the time of the foul. While I used to simply do a “drop ball” to the keeper to restart play, allowing him/her to pick it up (it only seemed fair…), I realize that the correct restart is an indirect free kick. I instructed the keeper that he needed to put the ball down and restart with an indirect free kick, a teammate of the keeper decided that since his keeper had the ball and was going to punt it until I had stopped play, he would have the keeper ‘flick’ the ball to him as a restart and he would simply head it back to the keeper. I explained that would be a violation of the ‘pass back’ rule – using trickery to circumvent the law – and he would not be permitted to do that. After reading the laws a little closer, I’m not sure I was correct…
Can a keeper ‘flick’ the ball to a teammate on a restart, have the teammate head the ball back to the keeper, then the keeper can catch it and punt it away??
USSF answer (April 14, 2008):
We will not go into your former way of restarting play, other than to say that it is certainly not correct now.
If play was stopped for a caution, then
(1) there was no foul;
(2) it doesn’t matter whether the ball was just laying there, being played by someone, or being held by the goalkeeper;
(3) giving the restart to the goalkeeper was (a) valid only if it was an opponent who committed the misconduct and (b) beyond the referee’s authority since the indirect free kick restart can be conducted by anyone on the GK’s team (assuming the offense was by an opponent). The questioner’s scenario makes it appear that he believes the GK must perform the IFK (because he was holding the ball at the time?).
Explaining about pass backs and trickery etc. is also beyond the referee’s authority unless the players were very young (of course, the referee could respond to a brief, direct question about the Law if asked by a player).
Finally, if the restart is any sort of kick by the goalkeeper (DFK, IFK, GK, or CK — we exclude penalty kicks solely for practical reasons), “flicking” the ball to a teammate who then heads it back to the ‘keeper cannot be considered trickery since there would be no possibility of a so-called “pass back” offense occurring anyway. The trickery rule has to be based on the restart of kicking the ball deliberately to the goalkeeper. If there is no possibility of the offense by the goalkeeper handling the ball after it has been kicked deliberately kicked by a teammate, then there is also no possibility of the misconduct.