(Originally posted on 7/5/17, Operation Restore)
Tim, an adult amateur Referee, asks:
Defender passes the ball to own goalkeeper who deliberately but inexpertly kicks the ball which then goes toward the goalkeeper’s own goal. The goalkeeper catches up to the ball and handles it to prevent a goal. Is the restart an indirect free kick and should the keeper be shown a red card for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity?
Yes and no. Three matters of Law are involved here. First, taken as a given, the goalkeeper’s initial contact with the ball did not involve the use of hands but the immediately subsequent contact did involve the goalkeeper’s hands. It therefore meets the definition of the so-called “pass back” rule because there was no contact with the ball by anyone else between the pass by the teammate and the goalkeeper’s handling. Second, the Law considers this an indirect free kick offense (no offense by a goalkeeper involving handling the ball can ever result in a restart other than an indirect free kick if the handling occurs inside the goalkeeper’s own penalty area). Third, the offense for which the goalkeeper is being punished by giving the opponents an indirect free kick is not handling (meaning “handball”) and therefore does not come under the offense of handling (meaning “handball”) the ball to deny a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Accordingly, a red card for this play is not warranted.