My reasoning:

This would tempt the stronger side to move forward, since there are same number of players in each side (11), it would be difficult to disposes them at the same time it gives them the opportunity to counter-attack in case they get too high. If the stronger side don't attack, then draw is anyways a good result for weak-side. Also in normal games the stronger-side (v/s medium side) usually win by a margin of 1 or 2 goals (in 90 minutes). By this strategy, even if there is a miss-pass once in a while, the chances of it being converted doesn't seem high given that in normal play they at most manage to score 1 or 2 goals extra.

3 Answers 3


Because weak/medium teams are generally not good at it. There are only few players who possess both good defensive and good ball possession/passing qualities at a very high level. Such players (like Sergio Ramos e.g.) usually already play for good teams.

If a weak/medium side decides to play in such a way against a strong team, they will most probably fail against intense pressing that the strong team's agile and physically fit players will apply on them.


Before the back-pass rule was introduced in 1992, this was exactly how weaker teams did play, esp. at the 1990 World Cup; they couldn't lose the ball to pressing by opponents, since they could always pass back to the goalkeeper, who could pick it up and could not be tackled, before wasting more time then rolling/passing/kicking the ball back out and doing the whole thing all over again. So it was a consequence-free environment, and teams generally had no obligation to attack or move the ball into the last third of the pitch (other than getting booed, or an innate sense of sporting shame). Wikipedia quotes SkySports on this:

The back-pass rule was introduced in 1992 to discourage time-wasting and unduly defensive play after the 1990 World Cup was described as exceedingly dull, rife with back-passing and goalkeepers holding up the ball.

You can see exactly this in old World Cup videos from 1982, 1986, 1990 etc.

Teams that had particular reputations for playing end-to-end passing then back to the goalkeeper without making any effort to attack included Egypt, Norway (previous WCs), Rep of Ireland (my country) and countless others. (No disrespect.)

As In Memory of Legal Backpasses (1863-1993) mentions:

Gradually, though, [between 1966-1990] the game evidently became more cynical. The anti-football nadir was reached at the start of the 1990s, as Jonathan Wilson writes:

'A general rethink about the laws of the game had been promoted by the negativity of the 1990 World Cup and, in particular one passage of play in the group match between the Republic of Ireland and Egypt in which the Irish keeper Packie Bonner held the ball for almost six minutes without releasing it.'

Jonathan Wilson - The Outsider: A History of the Goalkeeper

Hey, people in Ireland were quite embarrassed by that too, it's not how we generally played (unlike Norway or Egypt), it's good the practice got banned.


If they had the capability to maintain possession in the back- or midfield, and only concede one or two goals from any turnover that might occur, they would no longer be a "weak/medium team", because this kind of control over possession, ball location and tempo is a hallmark of good or strong teams.

The entire proposal defeats its own need.


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