Ref4Me

What's a "trick"?

ProbablyRubbish

New Member
  • initiates a deliberate trick for the ball to be passed (including from a free kick or goal kick) to the goalkeeper with the head, chest, knee etc. to circumvent the Law, whether or not the goalkeeper touches the ball with the hands; the goalkeeper is cautioned if responsible for initiating the deliberate trick
^ cautionable offence per the IFAB Laws of the Game. I remember as a kid seeing a Hearts defender with the ball at his feet getting chased through the box, dropping to the floor, and passing the keeper the ball with his knee on the way down. I thought it was a tremendous bit of skill. Would that now be disallowed?
 
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socal lurker

RefChat Addict
There is nothing new about this. Trickery has been a cautionable offense for a long time (I believe it came into the magic book the year after the pass back law was created).

The most obvious trick is going to be relatively static play where a player flicks it up to then head back to the GK. The specifics of the play you describe, and the opinion of the referee of the day, are going to decide if that play is a "trick" or a reasonable play. Most GKs aren't going to take a chance and are going to play that ball with their feet. (While the GK using hands is not part of the trick analysis, the reality is that on a play like this that is not the prototypical trick play, refs are extremely unlikely to call it unless the GK uses hands.) Most likely the ref would not stop play and caution--not because it doesn't qualify as trickery, but because it is such a rare thing that refs aren't looking for it and aren't likely to think about it on an unusual play like this.
 

ProbablyRubbish

New Member
Thanks for that. It all comes down to interpretation then. I am a litigation solicitor so in my job I am used to the meaning of every word being argued about and eventually clarified by a judge. Is there a similar body of decisions or interpretations anywhere that would help someone understand what should and should not be interpreted as a trick, (same goes for all the other laws, e.g. "endanger the safety of...") or is it just left to each refs own feelings on the day?
 

ChasObserverRefDeveloper

Regular Contributor
Thanks for that. It all comes down to interpretation then. I am a litigation solicitor so in my job I am used to the meaning of every word being argued about and eventually clarified by a judge. Is there a similar body of decisions or interpretations anywhere that would help someone understand what should and should not be interpreted as a trick, (same goes for all the other laws, e.g. "endanger the safety of...") or is it just left to each refs own feelings on the day?
There is no definitive list - the law was introduced after a law change which meant the goalkeeper could not handle the ball if it was deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate.
In week one of the season, a Bundesluga player knelt down and kneed a free kick to his goalkeeper - not contrary to Law at that time.
IFAB/FIFA became aware quickly and the circumvention became law shortly afterwards.
 

one

RefChat Addict
Level 7 Referee
Don't get yourself in a knot with the word trick. The intent here is not that. It's that the player knows he can't kick the ball to the goal keeper to pick up after being in posession of it with the foot. He also know he can pass the ball to the keeper to pick up without using the foot. So if to circumvent the former, they use the latter that becomes an offence.

In other words, the focus of this law is not around using a trick, it's around circumventing the law.
 

Peter Grove

RefChat Addict
As @ChasObserverRefDeveloper points out, this all goes back to when the "circumvention" clause was first introduced, which was in 1992.

(I believe it came into the magic book the year after the pass back law was created).
Although it didn't make it into the law book until the following year, the actual change was implemented just 23 days later. The so-called "backpass law" was introduced in 1992, with the new law taking effect on July 1st. On July 24th 1992, following a number of incidents (as I recall it there were several not just one) FIFA issued its circular number 488 stating (in part) as follows:

Subject to the terms of Law 12, a player may pass the ball to his own goalkeeper using his head or chest or knee, etc. If, however, in the opinion of the referee, a player uses a deliberate trick in order to circumvent the amendment to Law 12, the player will be guilty of unsporting behaviour and will be punished accordingly in terms of Law 12; that is to say, the player will be cautioned and an indirect free-kick will be awarded to the opposing team from the place where the player committed the offense.

Examples of such tricks would include: a player who deliberately flicks the ball with his feet up onto his head in order to head the ball to his goalkeeper; or, a player who kneels down and deliberately pushes the ball to the goalkeeper with his knee, etc.

In such circumstances, it is irrelevant whether the goalkeeper subsequently touches the ball with his hands or not. The offence is committed by the player in attempting to circumvent both the text and the spirit of Law 12, and the referee must only be convinced that this was the player’s motive.

In previous discussions on this topic I have a opined that I think a good way to determine whether a deliberate trick has been used to circumvent the law is to look at whether the player has manoeuvred either the ball or their body in an unusual or unnatural manner in order to be able to play the ball with a part of the body other than the foot.

So if for example the ball arrives through the normal course play at head, chest or knee height and the player just uses the body part which is closest to the ball as it comes to them, then they have not resorted to a deliberate trick.

If on the other hand the ball is already on the ground and the player contrives to maneuver their body or perform an action that allows them to use a body part other than the foot, when the referee judges that the most normal and natural course of action would have been simply to kick the ball to their keeper, then they have used a deliberate trick.

As the circular states this does require the referee to discern the motive behind a player's actions which obviously can be a bit tricky. However if it's obvious that the most normal thing to do would have been to just kick the ball to the keeper and the only logical reason not to, would be to avoid the prohibition contained in the law then you can be fairly certain that this is indeed the players motive in doing what they have done.
 
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ProbablyRubbish

New Member
I am still conflicted about whether the scenario I previously saw would be a breach of the rule. The following bit is interesting from the FIFA Circular:

The offence is committed by the player in attempting to circumvent both the text and the spirit of Law 12, (my emphasis)

I haven't researched this so may be wrong but I think the rule was introduced to stop players time wasting by passing the ball backwards and forwards between the goalkeeper and outfield players.

In the scenario I saw, the defender was being harried by two attackers, and dribbling with the ball along the goal line. There wouldn't be space for the keeper to clear the ball with his feet without it potentially ricocheting into the goal, so the defender dropped to the floor and knee'd the ball as he fell, so the goalkeeper could dive on the ball and collect it with his hands.

That, to me, is circumventing the text of Law 12 but not the spirit, provided the spirit was indeed to prevent time wasting. But then I quite liked it and thought it was skillful, so perhaps I am unwittingly tailoring a post-hoc justification.
 

ChasObserverRefDeveloper

Regular Contributor
I am still conflicted about whether the scenario I previously saw would be a breach of the rule. The following bit is interesting from the FIFA Circular:



I haven't researched this so may be wrong but I think the rule was introduced to stop players time wasting by passing the ball backwards and forwards between the goalkeeper and outfield players.

In the scenario I saw, the defender was being harried by two attackers, and dribbling with the ball along the goal line. There wouldn't be space for the keeper to clear the ball with his feet without it potentially ricocheting into the goal, so the defender dropped to the floor and knee'd the ball as he fell, so the goalkeeper could dive on the ball and collect it with his hands.

That, to me, is circumventing the text of Law 12 but not the spirit, provided the spirit was indeed to prevent time wasting. But then I quite liked it and thought it was skillful, so perhaps I am unwittingly tailoring a post-hoc justification.
As per Peter Groves's summation above, the outcome should have been a d. f. k. for circumventing the law.
 

socal lurker

RefChat Addict
As per Peter Groves's summation above, the outcome should have been a d. f. k. for circumventing the law.
can't be a dfk--caution and ifk.

I haven't researched this so may be wrong but I think the rule was introduced to stop players time wasting by passing the ball backwards and forwards between the goalkeeper and outfield players.
While a primary spirit of the law was the long back pass and resulting stagnation, it also the idea of taking the ball "out of play" with the pass to the GK who picks it up. A trick in contested play is absolutely against the spirit of the law.
 

ChasObserverRefDeveloper

Regular Contributor
can't be a dfk--caution and ifk.


While a primary spirit of the law was the long back pass and resulting stagnation, it also the idea of taking the ball "out of play" with the pass to the GK who picks it up. A trick in contested play is absolutely against the spirit of the law.
Quite right, socal lurker- I was preparing lunch whilst posting, and as we know men should not multi-task! IFK and caution it is!
 

socal lurker

RefChat Addict
Verratti with a prime example of attempting to circumvent the backpass law...

Verratti yellow card

It's interesting watching as the ref runs in as soon as the ball is headed. But then stops as the GK doesn't use hands. And then calls it a moment later. Did an AR or 4O remind him that the cautionable offense stands regardless of whether the GK uses hands? Or was he still processing himself?
 

bester

RefChat Addict
Level 7 Referee
It's interesting watching as the ref runs in as soon as the ball is headed. But then stops as the GK doesn't use hands. And then calls it a moment later. Did an AR or 4O remind him that the cautionable offense stands regardless of whether the GK uses hands? Or was he still processing himself?
Probably had a shout down the comms. He's wagging his finger as he runs in probably shouting don't handle it.
 

Peter Grove

RefChat Addict
I am still conflicted about whether the scenario I previously saw would be a breach of the rule. The following bit is interesting from the FIFA Circular:

I haven't researched this so may be wrong but I think the rule was introduced to stop players time wasting by passing the ball backwards and forwards between the goalkeeper and outfield players.

In the scenario I saw, the defender was being harried by two attackers, and dribbling with the ball along the goal line. There wouldn't be space for the keeper to clear the ball with his feet without it potentially ricocheting into the goal, so the defender dropped to the floor and knee'd the ball as he fell, so the goalkeeper could dive on the ball and collect it with his hands.

That, to me, is circumventing the text of Law 12 but not the spirit, provided the spirit was indeed to prevent time wasting. But then I quite liked it and thought it was skillful, so perhaps I am unwittingly tailoring a post-hoc justification.
I think you're mixing up the two different parts of the law. The intent of the law being about time-wasting is only applicable to the "backpass law" itself.

The circumvention provision in the law has nothing to do with time-wasting - it's purely about stopping players from using subterfuge to avoid the prohibition on the keeper picking up a ball that was deliberately kicked to them.

You say that, "the defender dropped to the floor and knee'd the ball as he fell, so the goalkeeper could dive on the ball and collect it with his hands."

Right there, you've stated that the defender's whole reason for doing what he did, was to allow the keeper to use their hands, thereby avoiding (i.e. circumventing) the law that doesn't allow the keeper to do this if the ball is kicked.

As FIFA circular 488 says, it's the player's motive that counts and you've already established the motive. So based on your own observation, this is a clear circumvention offence.
 

ProbablyRubbish

New Member
I think you're mixing up the two different parts of the law. The intent of the law being about time-wasting is only applicable to the "backpass law" itself.

The circumvention provision in the law has nothing to do with time-wasting - it's purely about stopping players from using subterfuge to avoid the prohibition on the keeper picking up a ball that was deliberately kicked to them.

You say that, "the defender dropped to the floor and knee'd the ball as he fell, so the goalkeeper could dive on the ball and collect it with his hands."

Right there, you've stated that the defender's whole reason for doing what he did, was to allow the keeper to use their hands, thereby avoiding (i.e. circumventing) the law that doesn't allow the keeper to do this if the ball is kicked.

As FIFA circular 488 says, it's the player's motive that counts and you've already established the motive. So based on your own observation, this is a clear circumvention offence.
I actually think your analysis here ^ is incorrect based on the text of the FIFA Circular.

The FIFA Circular states the following: "The offence is committed by the player in attempting to circumvent both the text and the spirit of Law 12, and the referee must only be convinced that this was the player’s motive."

I am now going to copy that text again, with formatting added: "The offence is committed by the player in attempting to circumvent both the text and the spirit of Law 12, and the referee must only be convinced that this was the player’s motive."

The part underlined above, "the offence", refers to circumvention by a trick.

The part in bold above states that the offence of circumvention by a trick requires an attempt to circumvent both:
  1. the text of Law 12 - which, as you have put it, "doesn't allow the keeper to use their hands if the ball is kicked" to them by a teammate; and
  2. the spirit of Law 12 - which, as you have put it, is "about time-wasting".
In summary, according to the circular, for the offence to have occurred, the trick must be an attempt to circumvent both points 1 and 2 above.

In the scenario I described, the trick had the first component, since it was an attempt to circumvent the text of Law 12. However, it did not have the second component, since the purpose was not about time-wasting, but was about allowing the goalkeeper to take control of the ball under pressure. Therefore, it didn't meet the test set out in the circular, and didn't constitute an offence.
 

Kes

I'll Decide ...
Level 5 Referee
I personally think it's one of the most pointless Laws in the game. .. :shifty:
 

ChasObserverRefDeveloper

Regular Contributor
I actually think your analysis here ^ is incorrect based on the text of the FIFA Circular.

The FIFA Circular states the following: "The offence is committed by the player in attempting to circumvent both the text and the spirit of Law 12, and the referee must only be convinced that this was the player’s motive."

I am now going to copy that text again, with formatting added: "The offence is committed by the player in attempting to circumvent both the text and the spirit of Law 12, and the referee must only be convinced that this was the player’s motive."

The part underlined above, "the offence", refers to circumvention by a trick.

The part in bold above states that the offence of circumvention by a trick requires an attempt to circumvent both:
  1. the text of Law 12 - which, as you have put it, "doesn't allow the keeper to use their hands if the ball is kicked" to them by a teammate; and
  2. the spirit of Law 12 - which, as you have put it, is "about time-wasting".
In summary, according to the circular, for the offence to have occurred, the trick must be an attempt to circumvent both points 1 and 2 above.

In the scenario I described, the trick had the first component, since it was an attempt to circumvent the text of Law 12. However, it did not have the second component, since the purpose was not about time-wasting, but was about allowing the goalkeeper to take control of the ball under pressure. Therefore, it didn't meet the test set out in the circular, and didn't constitute an offence.
The spirit of the law is not about time wasting - it's about playing fairly. Circumventing the law is the offence here, both in respect of the text and the spirit of Law 12.
Peter Grove did not say the spirit of the law was about time wasting, merely pointed out that you are mixing time wasting up with the separate offence of circumvention.
 

ProbablyRubbish

New Member
The spirit of the law is not about time wasting - it's about playing fairly. Circumventing the law is the offence here, both in respect of the text and the spirit of Law 12.
You have not understood what I am saying. There are two offences: firstly, a goalkeeper picking up a back pass. Secondly, circumventing the first using a trick.

The second offence requires the trick to be an attempt to circumvent both the text and spirt of the first.

Discussion regarding "the spirit" refers to "the spirit" of the back pass rule. It has nothing to do with the spirit of the circumvention rule. Any attempt to interpret it that way goes against the FIFA Circular and would also be circular (i.e. self-referential) logic.

Peter Grove did not say the spirit of the law was about time wasting, merely pointed out that you are mixing time wasting up with the separate offence of circumvention.

This is plainly not correct:

The intent of the law being about time-wasting is only applicable to the "backpass law" itself.

I appreciate it is slightly complicated language in the FIFA Circular, but let's keep the discussion sensible here.
 
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ChasObserverRefDeveloper

Regular Contributor
You have not understood what I am saying. There are two offences: firstly, a goalkeeper picking up a back pass. Secondly, circumventing the first using a trick.

The second offence requires the trick to be an attempt to circumvent both the text and spirt of the first.

Discussion regarding "the spirit" refers to "the spirit" of the back pass rule. It has nothing to do with the spirit of the circumvention rule. Any attempt to interpret it that way goes against the FIFA Circular and would also be circular (i.e. self-referential) logic.



This is plainly not correct:



I appreciate it is slightly complicated language in the FIFA Circular, but let's keep the discussion sensible here.
We have explained the situation in response to your original request.
The defender in question attempted to circumvent Law 12 by kneeing the ball along the ground, starting with the ball at his feet.
Contrary to law? Yes.
 

ProbablyRubbish

New Member
You have explained the decision that you would give on the field of play, absolutely. I fully appreciate that. But my instinct - probably because of my job as a solicitor - is to go back to the source material for the offence. I think that given the emphasis on this forum about being "correct in law" that this is an instinct most referees also share. Going back to the source material for the offence, which includes the FIFA Circular, it is necessary to consider whether, by kneeing the ball, the player is intending to circumvent both the text and the spirit of the back pass law. I have suggested that the spirit of the back pass law is to avoid time-wasting and Peter Grove agreed with that (stating "The intent of the law being about time-wasting is... applicable to the backpass law"). So I think the position is one of the following (and, look, I am not trying to "win" an argument, I just genuinely love this analytical process and trying to get to some kind of objective truth):

  • to support the decision you would give on the field of play, you feel the spirit of the back pass law is not (just) about time wasting; or
  • the decision you would give on the field of play feels intuitive, but by the wording of the law is actually incorrect.
(When I refer to "you" above, I mean the various posters, not just you specifically.)

If it is the first bullet point, that's great, the conversation moves forward and my next question is "how do we clarify the spirit of the back pass law", which perhaps means referring to the FIFA meeting where the rule was introduced to see what their purpose was.

If it is the second bullet point, that's great too, there is nothing wrong with misunderstanding something, and now we have all learned and move forward.

And if you think there is a third option, please let me know what this is. Genuinely just here to learn.
 
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