When a footballer attempts a deliberate back pass to the goalkeeper, and it hits off the post or crossbar, and the goalkeeper uses his or her hands to save it on or about the line:

  • First, is the pass back infringement still valid?
  • If so, does an indirect kick come from the spot the line where the keeper handled the ball, or does this necessitate a penalty?

2 Answers 2


Only direct free kick offences committed by a team in their own penalty area result in a penalty kick[1].

For indirect free kick offences that are committed by a defending team inside their own goal area, the position of the free kick is the closest point to the infringement on the goal area line parallel to the goal line - or in simpler terms, the ball is moved directly back towards the attacking team's goal line until it's on the longest line of the goal area.[2]

As for the first part, the offence occurs when the ball is handled by the goalkeeper after having been deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by a teammate[1]. In your example, this still holds true, as after the ball was kicked to the goalkeeper by a teammate, it wasn't either:

  • played by an opponent; or
  • played by a teammate in a way that wasn't a deliberate kick to the goalkeeper.

The correct decision here is an indirect free kick to the opponents. This is also the case if the goalkeeper receives the ball outside the penalty area with his feet, dribbles it back into the penalty area, and handles it.

  • Thanks for the detailed explanation. I believed this would be the case, but had trouble articulating the law. Both answers helped me here. Cheers!
    – Sean
    Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 14:19

While I cannot answer the first part of your question with exact certainty, if the ruling is in fact that there was a pass back infringement, the indirect free kick is to be taken at least 6 yards back from the goal line, parallel to the goal line, nearest the infringement (assuming the keeper handled the ball inside the goal area)(FIFA). Not knowing the rule for sure, as a referee, I would call the infringement, because a shot that hits the post / crossbar and then is fielded by an offensive player who was in an offsides position at the time of the shot is still offsides (meaning that the act of the ball hitting the post / crossbar does not change the fact that the next player to touch the ball was offsides).

  • Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. I know this is quite a specific incident. My belief is that it remains an infringement but am still curious. In my scenario, there's no pressure from the offense. It is an errant back pass to the keeper that almost scores an own goal.
    – Sean
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 19:41
  • It does remain an infringement, as it is the intention of the passer that matters (which also makes the law difficult to apply...). However, if I'm not mistaken, a yellow card might also be given to the passer if he passed the ball to the GK but tried to "get around" the law by deliberately passing the ball via the post/bar. Trying to use "loopholes" in the laws is punishable with a booking.
    – Qvist
    Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 17:32

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