Re U12G 11v11 rules for a Keeper picking up a ball that has been kicked.

My Keeper recently picked up a ball that was kicked by her team.

The situation was as follows. It was a rainy day, the ball was wet, a defender was taking a goal kick to restart the game. By all observations the defender intended to kick the ball down the right flank, but she sliced the ball and it went across the goal mouth in the 6 yard box. The Keeper picked it up based on the fact that the ball had not been deliberately kicked to the Keeper. The Keeper contends that the “pass back” rule for lack of a better description has a double test; one, the ball must be kicked by the foot of a team mate and; two, the ball must be kicked deliberately to the Keeper. She got called for a hand ball.

Can you comment on this situation?

USSF answer (May 29, 2008):
Based on the information you give us, there was no infringement to be punished. The ball never went into play and the only correct solution was for the goal kick to be retaken.

Even if the ball had gone into play — i. e., left the penalty area — the goalkeeper could not have been called for “hand ball.” That suggests the direct free kick/penalty kick foul of deliberately handling the ball; for a goalkeeper, this could occur only if the goalkeeper had left the penalty area. At best, the goalkeeper simply touched the ball with her hands within her own penalty area, an offense punished by an indirect free kick.

Again, if the ball had been properly put into play — and it was not — and if the referee had not called whatever offense occurred a “hand ball,” then there could have been solely the technical offense described above. All of this, of course, depends on how the referee sees the incident. All decisions of this nature are called according to the opinion of the referee on the game.

This excerpt from a recent U. S. Soccer Federation position paper should be of some help in describing the basis for the infringement of the goalkeeper playing the ball kicked deliberately to him or her by a teammate:

This rarely seen infraction came into the Laws of the Game in 1992 as part of the general effort to restrict opportunities for goalkeepers to waste time by unfairly withholding the ball from active challenge by taking possession of the ball with the hands. Other measures along the same lines include the 6 second limit on goalkeeper possession, the second possession restriction, and the throw-in to the goalkeeper by a teammate.

The offense rests on three events occurring in the following sequence:
– The ball is kicked (played with the foot) by a teammate of the goalkeeper,
– This action is deemed to be deliberate rather than a deflection, 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.

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