A goalkeeper cannot handle the ball if a teammate passes ball to them.

But can the goalkeeper take the ball into their hands if it is deflected from the leg? Also, can they take the ball in their hands from a teammate's throw-in?

  • @gdrt I've rolled back your edit here - "goalkeeper" rather than "goalkeepers" is correct, and the rules apply equally to female players. – Philip Kendall Aug 1 '17 at 8:28
  • @Philipp Kendall, shouldn't it then at least be goalkeepers instead of a goalkeeper when their is used? I think singular they is acceptable in informal speech, but not that much in formal writing. – gdrt Aug 1 '17 at 10:09
  • The IFAB Laws of the Game uses singular they - in fact, this was one of the changes in the recent rewrite. I believe we've had this discussion before in meta. I think the consensus was that it didn't really matter - I just have the habit of using singular they and must have unconsciously made the change when originally editing the question. – studro Aug 2 '17 at 2:33

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct, Section 2 - Indirect Free Kick outlines when a goalkeeper may not deliberately handle the ball1 in their own penalty area.

An indirect free kick is awarded if a goalkeeper, inside their penalty area, commits any of the following offences:

...

  • touches the ball with the hands after:

    • releasing it and before it has touched another player
    • it has been deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by a team-mate
    • receiving it directly from a throw-in taken by a team-mate

Your question begins with the assumption that the goalkeeper may not deliberately handle the ball after it is passed to them by a teammate.

This is not entirely correct, as the goalkeeper may in fact deliberately handle the ball after it is passed to them by a teammate. The only time they may not do so is when that pass is a kick (i.e. played with the foot). Headed passes, and passes with the chest, knee, thigh etc. are able to be handled legally.

A deflection from the leg is legal for the goalkeeper to handle for two reasons:

  • Firstly, if it is a deflection, it has not been deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper. (This is also the case for deflections off the foot.)
  • Secondly, if it is played with leg there can be no offence. Only deliberate kicks to the goalkeeper are illegal to handle, and kicks are made with the foot, not the leg2.

Finally, as seen above, deliberately handling the ball after receiving it directly from a throw-in taken by a teammate is also an indirect free kick offence.

It is also worth noting that the goalkeeper can never be cautioned or sent-off for handling the ball in their own penalty area - an indirect free kick is the maximum punishment. Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct, Section 1 - Direct Free Kick:

Inside their penalty area, the goalkeeper cannot be guilty of a handling offence incurring a direct free kick or any related sanction but can be guilty of handling offences that incur an indirect free kick.

For completeness, when the ball is wholly outside the penalty area, the goalkeeper, like any other player, may not deliberately handle the ball as also noted in 12.1:

The goalkeeper has the same restrictions on handling the ball as any other player outside the penalty area.

1 - although the Law says "touches the ball with hands", not "deliberately handles", it is understood that to breach this Law, it must be a deliberate handling as implied in both the first sentence and final paragraph of Law 12, Section 1.

2 - the goalkeeper is taking a big risk by handling a ball that has been deliberately played to them from a teammate's lower leg, as the referee may (wrongly) believe it has come off the foot and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team.

  • What's the definition of "handling"? Touching with one's hand? Grabbing it? – Santropedro Jul 26 at 22:09
  • @Santropedro A player handles the ball when their arm or hand makes contact with the ball. This would including grabbing the ball, parrying it away with the hands, or blocking the ball with their arm. Only deliberate handling should be punished (like the direct free kick offence for outfield players and goalkeeper outside of their penalty area in Law 12, Section 1). – studro Jul 29 at 4:25

Your two questions will be answered by the IFAB laws of the game Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct.

  1. Can he take the ball if the ball is deflected from the leg?

Concerned rule: Goalkeeper touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate.

Deliberate being the key word. Since, the ball deflected from the leg is not deliberate. He can take the ball.

  1. Can he take the ball if a team mate does the throw in to the goalkeeper?

Concerned rule: Goalkeeper touches the ball with his hands after he has received it directly from a throw-in taken by a team-mate.

In this case he can't take the ball.

Doing the things mentioned in rules will result in an indirect free kick for opposite team, when goalkeeper is inside his own penalty area.

Other sources: Quora

The goalkeeper cannot pick the ball up when it has been intentionally passed back to them, except via the head or chest. They also cannot drop the ball from their hands and then handle it again before anyone else has touched it.

Reference: Fouls and misconduct (thefa.com)

  • Please verify 2nd part of answer because keeper can drop the hard struck ball into ground to dissipate force and then handle the bounced ball immediately. – Ram Chandra Giri Jul 26 '17 at 16:45
  • Deflecting a hard shot to the ground, then catching it, is not dropping it! The laws also explicitly make this clear, in Law 12.2: "A goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball when: the ball is between the hands or between the hand and any surface (e.g. ground, own body) or by touching it with any part of the hands or arms except if the ball rebounds accidentally from the goalkeeper or the goalkeeper has made a save". – Nij Jul 27 '17 at 8:31
  • @Nij is right that an accidental rebound / save is not the same as dropping it. However, the goalkeeper also can drop the ball and rehandle it - as long as they recatch it after a bounce. The goalkeeper may bounce the ball as much as they like and maintain control (but the six seconds is ticking the entire time). Also in 12.2: A goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball when: ... bouncing it on the ground or throwing it in the air – studro Jul 31 '17 at 0:28
  • I'd argue that the distinction between head/chest and any other part of the body is not entirely correct. Passes from knee and thigh can also be handled. In fact, the goalkeeper can handle the ball when it is deliberately played to them from any part of a teammate's body except the foot. – studro Jul 31 '17 at 0:30

If the ball is deflected from the leg truly accidentally (and is seen as so by the official) then it is okay for the keeper to use his/her hands. A keeper can only use his/her hands to pick up the ball if the the ball has been passed by a teammate via their head or chest.

The keeper cannot pick up the ball directly off of a friendly throw in.

  • "A keeper can only use his/her hands to pick up the ball if the the ball has been passed by a teammate via their head or chest." This is certainly not true. What about the knee or thigh? What about the shin? – studro Jul 31 '17 at 4:07

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