|Case Study #||22-2013|
|Match Date||12 July 2013|
|Competition||Major League Soccer|
|Fixture/Result||PHI 2 – 1 CHV|
|Referee/Badge||Jorge Gonzalez, USSF Grade 3|
|At Issue||The referee awarded an indirect free kick to Philadelphia after deciding the Chivas USA goalkeeper illegally touched the ball (a so-called “pass back” violation)|
In the 79th minute of the match, a cross was played into the Chivas USA (red) penalty area by a Philadelphia attacher. The Chivas USA goalkeeper attempted to collect the cross, but lost possession, resulting in the ball moving straight toward the top of the penalty area. A Chivas USA defender who was moving toward his own goal made contact with the ball with his foot, and the ball was next touched by the Chivas GK with his hands. The referee immediately whistled for an illegal GK touch foul. The ensuing indirect free kick resulted in a goal for Philadelphia.
Do you agree with the decision?
Paul Rejer of PRO (the Professional Referees Organization) says “no”:
Law 12 states that: ‘An indirect free-kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area, touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a teammate’. The key word here is deliberate, that is what the referee has to decide.
In this play it is obvious that this was not a deliberate pass as the ball rebounded to the keeper from a challenge and not a contrived pass.
Mr. Rejer arrives at his conclusion that the kick by the Chivas defender is “obvious[ly]…not a deliberate pass” because “the ball rebounded to the keeper from a challenge and not a contrived pass”.
We need to parse Mr. Rejer’s statement in order to better understand his position.
“The ball rebounded to the keeper from a challenge”
The word “rebound” is found neither in the Laws of the Game nor in the Advice to Referees in the context of an illegal GK touch. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “rebound” as “to spring back on or as if on collision or impact with another body”. I don’t believe the use of the word “rebound” adds to the understanding or analysis of this incident. It’s at best confusing and at worst misleading.
“not a contrived pass”
Another term not found in any official publication, “contrived” is defined as “having an unnatural or false appearance or quality”. In Mr. Rejer’s defense, I have to assume he misuses the word “contrived”, and actually means the opposite. Antonyms of “contrived” include “natural” and “unforced”. I would submit that there is an even better word to use in this case: deliberate. If you’ll allow me a bit of artistic license, I’ll rewrite Mr. Rejer’s statement, substituting the definitions of the these two words for the words themselves:
In this play it is obvious that this was not a deliberate pass as the the ball sprang back to the goalkeeper after impact with the Chivas defender’s foot and not from a deliberate pass.
In other words this was obviously not a deliberate pass because it wasn’t a deliberate pass. That’s not a very compelling argument, in my opinion.
I mean no disrespect to Mr. Rejer. I am sure he knows much more about refereeing that I ever will. However, I would humbly ask him to choose his words very carefully, as they are being read by thousands of referees all over the country.
To get back to the heart of the matter, let’s return to the Advice to Referees and use a very helpful tool provided to help make decisions in this case: The Test of the Triangle.
One last trip to the dictionary provides us the definition of “deliberate”. Definition #2 defines it as “characterized by awareness of the consequences”. So, we ask ourselves, does a professional soccer player realize that kicking the ball with his foot while under pressure from an attacker could lead to an infraction if the goalkeeper next touches the ball with his hands?
What is “obvious” to this observer is that the three sides of the triangle are present and accounted for: the defender deliberately kicks the ball which is then touched by the GK with his hands. The referee’s decision was fully in keeping with the Laws of the Game.
If that isn’t the desired outcome, IFAB need to provide new guidance to referees. Let’s not criticize referees for making decisions fully in keeping with the LOTG , the ATRs and the Interpretations.