It would be a far stretch to argue that the LOTG are 100% complete, and without gray areas or debatable topics; just look at the changes about to come into effect and what a huge Pandora’s box of protest and dissent is going to follow. However, that’s an entirely different topic, and separate post that I will save for another day. Alas, there are certainly some areas where the LOTG could use a little clarification and possible the odd added word or two just to make things solid and clear for all parties concerned.
One such instance is regarding a deliberate pass from a player to his own goal keeper. In this clip, white is the defender and plays the ball to his own goal keeper.
Some fellow referees and I were discussing this clip (ignore the immediate foul on the replay – we’re interested in the second incident).
My first reaction was that the referee was correct to allow play to continue as the ball did deflect off the attackers foot. However, as you know, as referees we are always asked during education sessions, exams, etc. to always give our answer and be able to support it using LOTG. Unfortunately, for this particular situation, I cannot use LOTG to support that answer. In fact, LOTG supports the complete opposite, where this particular situation would still be a deliberate play to the goal keeper, who then handles the ball and therefore, Indirect Free Kick to the opposing team. I have been arguing not only with my fellow referee friends, but with myself as well.
Arguments and rebuttals were as follows:
1 – Argument was made that it’s similar to a deflection scenario in Law 11. My rebuttal was that Law 11 actually supports this still being an IDFK! Law 11 is specific and actual makes the distinction that, if the ball is deflected, the player in the offside position is still penalized. The deflection does not over-rule the offside, and in this case the same would be true…the deflection does not over-rule the deliberate pass to the GK. Law 12 makes no such distinction.
2 – Argument was made that the deflection means it was no longer last played by the defender. My rebuttal…LOTG doesn’t say anything about last played. It only says deliberately kicked. Was the ball deliberately kicked to the GK? Yes. Did the GK handle the ball? Yes. Deflection doesn’t matter and therefore Indirect Free Kick to the opposing team.
3 – Argument was made that in Futsal, the same sort of thing applies where, if it is last played or touched by an opponent, then the GK is allowed to handle the ball. My rebuttal…we are not talking about Futsal, we are talking about Football – different set of LOTG! However, since Futsal was brought up – the Futsal LOTG SPECIFICALLY states “without an opponent playing or touching it“. Again…it makes the distinction, where football LOTG does not. Therefore, it makes no difference whether or not the ball is deflected by an opponent – all that matters is that it was deliberately played to the GK, and the GK handles the ball.
Now…I am perfectly happy and fine with the answer being that the referee in the above clip is correct and the deflection does in fact change the situation however, how does one support and justify this answer using LOTG?
If only we could get FIFA and IFAB to make the simple addition of “without an opponent playing or touching it” to that section of Law 12 so that there is without a doubt, no room for confusion or error.
If you can somehow use LOTG in its current form to prove that this is in fact a legal play by the goal keeper, please leave your comments below.