I am returning back to refereeing after a 16-year absence. I am currently taking the Grade 8 course, and at our last meeting we were discussing Law 12 regarding infractions requiring a re-start with an IFK. You have to remember that 16 years ago, a ball played back to the keeper in the penalty area (who subsequently handled the ball) was not an infraction. Therefore, I was paying particular attention during this segment of the class. We discussed a throw-in to the keeper who handles the ball “directly” from a teammate would be considered a violation, and restarted with an IFK.

The instructor then gave the following scenario:

A throw-in is taken, and “flicked” by a teammate to the Keeper who subsequently handles the ball inside his penalty area.

What is the violation, if any, asked the Instructor.

My response was, No violation. My belief was that since it did not involve a “deliberate kick” to the Keeper that no violation had occurred.

The Instructor’s interpretation was that this was an effort to circumvent the law, and would therefore constitute trickery. IFK to the other team.

I continued to disagree, and was referredd to “Advice to Referees”. 12.21 of the ATR specifically states that “Referees should take care not to consider as “trickery” any sequence of play that offers a fair chance for opponents to challenge for the ball before it is handled by the goalkeeper from a throw-in”.

Could you please give me some direction, because I plan on revisiting this subject at our meeting tonight.

USSF answer (April 14, 2008):
First, the situation involving a throw-in directly to a goalkeeper by a teammate of the goalkeeper is not an example of the so-called “pass back” to the goalkeeper, it is an entirely separate indirect free kick foul which is listed in Law 12.  The only things they have in common is that the action starts with a teammate, followed by the ball going directly to the hands of the goalkeeper, and that it is one of several indirect free kick violations by a goalkeeper designed by the Laws of the Game to discourage instances when, because the ball is being held by the goalkeeper, opponents cannot legally challenge for control.

Second, the “trickery” issue is misconduct, not a foul, and is therefore governed by a different set of requirements (in fact, the misconduct itself is being committed by the teammate, not the goalkeeper, and the goalkeeper does not even need to touch the ball in order for the misconduct to be committed).

Third, as a foul, the “pass back” or the “throw back” offenses are rare; as misconduct, “trickery” is even more uncommon.  Whereas the foul only requires the referee to see where the ball came from (kick from a teammate, throw-in by a teammate), the trickery offense requires evaluating what is going on around the play in question and why (in the opinion of the referee) the play was performed this way.

The ATR which you cited makes it clear that “trickery” should not be considered if the opponents had a fair chance to challenge for the ball.  If the referee decides they did not and that is why this sequence was performed, then “trickery” should be considered.

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