Ref4Me

What's a "trick"?

JamesL

RefChat Addict
Level 4 Referee
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 circumventing 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 identify 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.
As a solicitor you will probably have noticed that if you followed the good book and all its relevant circulars you would come out with some interesting decisions given its poor copy..

Let's not get caught up on a circular that predates the current edition of the laws. The game expects circumvention to be Penalised.
In my view, that's the only test. Was the players action designed to circumvent the law. If that is true it should be Penalised. You are far far over complicating it.
 
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ProbablyRubbish

New Member
Let's not get caught up on a circular that predates the current edition of the laws.
I feel like that is a bit of a fudge as it would suggest all circulars prior to 1 June 2020 should be ignored - the presumption being if they were deemed to carry weight they would have been incorporated into the latest edition of the laws?

In my view, that's the only test. Was the players action designed to circumvent the law. If that is true it should be Penalised. You are far far over complicating it.
It doesn't feel that complicated to me.

Objectively speaking, you are choosing to overlook an aspect of the law because you feel that the law is complicated if that aspect is taken into account. I am sure in practice that is the sensible thing to do, but it suggests you would also permit referees to simplify other complicated laws to fit their own perception of what they do or should say.

I think most fans and ordinary people would support referees applying a "common sense" interpretation of, say, handball or offside, but is that not entirely against the referees' credo?

As far as I am concerned, you can crack on with refereeing however you feel is best (you are obviously good at it, having made level 4), but I think the above are valid points to raise.
 

one

RefChat Addict
Level 7 Referee
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.
You are expecting IFAB to always word what they mean and mean what they word. If you have been around this forum long enough you would notice there are many, many, many cases where that is not true. That very statement basically says that if you think about it.

You are overthinking and over analysing this.
 

JamesL

RefChat Addict
Level 4 Referee
I feel like that is a bit of a fudge as it would suggest all circulars prior to 1 June 2020 should be ignored - the presumption being if they were deemed to carry weight they would have been incorporated into the latest edition of the laws?

So what you are saying is that a new referee who qualifies in 2021 should go back and read all the circulars? And to what date should they do this?

We're not in a court of law here where we can/should rely on secondary law, or case law or orders or regulations.

The LotG book should say exactly what they mean. I'd have to go back and jog my memory but often they dont write what they mean. So a change is made and along it comes with an explanation for the change. Often the explanation clarifies why the law is changed. But then the following year that explanation is then not in the new edition and you are therefore left with a law that has no context and the meaning behind the change is lost.

So a new referee comes along and reads the law as its written and that can sometimes completely change it.

As much as we would love to be students of the law, most of us on here are, and do like to understand the bitty gritty, in its application, laws 1-17 should be king. We should not have to say the law says this but that circular from 15-20 years ago said it must meet these tests. It's just not feasible.
 

GraemeS

RefChat Addict
Level 5 Referee
I feel like that is a bit of a fudge as it would suggest all circulars prior to 1 June 2020 should be ignored - the presumption being if they were deemed to carry weight they would have been incorporated into the latest edition of the laws?
Yes. On what basis are you assuming that not to be the case?
 

newref

Active Member
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.
So if it is deemed as a trick, and the goalkeeper picks the ball up and is cautioned, what about the defender who chips the ball to himself and headers it to the keeper? Does he get cautioned? Also what is the restart of play?
 

JamesL

RefChat Addict
Level 4 Referee
So if it is deemed as a trick, and the goalkeeper picks the ball up and is cautioned, what about the defender who chips the ball to himself and headers it to the keeper? Does he get cautioned? Also what is the restart of play?
It is the player that is cautioned not the keeper. The keeper hasnt circumvented the law the player has.
Keepers are not Sanctioned for handling offences in their own except for if they touch the ball a 2nd time, before another player, after a restart and that SPA or DOGSO.
 

one

RefChat Addict
Level 7 Referee
So if it is deemed as a trick, and the goalkeeper picks the ball up and is cautioned, what about the defender who chips the ball to himself and headers it to the keeper? Does he get cautioned? Also what is the restart of play?
This clause is not about performing a trick. It's about circumventing the laws.

Restart is IFK
 

ProbablyRubbish

New Member
Yes. On what basis are you assuming that not to be the case?
(^ Referring to the idea that all circulars pre-dating 1 June 2020 should be ignored)

Probably on the basis of habit. It is my habit to assume that authorities continue to have effect until such time as they are repealed or contradicted. I would not assume that all FIFA Circulars cease to have effect at the end of each season, as surely that would lead to a significant, annual effort to re-issue all of those which are deemed to continue to hold wisdom.

So what you are saying is that a new referee who qualifies in 2021 should go back and read all the circulars? And to what date should they do this?
Only where there is ambiguity with the meaning of the law. In the present scenario, the law uses the word "trick". This word appears only twice in the Laws and on the other occurrence it is used to mean "deceiving". For me, it is not clear what the word "trick" means, which is why I started this thread. Peter Grove then pointed me towards a circular providing additional interpretation. I think that is sensible and not overly burdensome.

In its application, laws 1-17 should be king. We should not have to say the law says this but that circular from 15-20 years ago said it must meet these tests. It's just not feasible.
Fair. I take your point.

Immediately above, I refer to using the circular to get a definition of the word "trick". I think it makes sense to refer to the circulars where a phrase in the LotG needs to be further defined.

But I think your point is that the reference to "the spirit" of the back pass rule was not made while defining the word trick but actually refers to the circumstances in which a "trick" is or is not an offense.

It is therefore narrowing the rule set out in the LotG - and new referees cannot be expected to look into the circulars in relation to each and every rule to see whether it has been narrowed or broadened at all.

I take that point and it makes sense to me.

I think my approach was "Whilst looking to define a "trick", I have come across this reference to the spirit of the game, and now I wish to apply it". But I see your point that it is not practical to allow referees to apply random wording from circulars that they happen to come across by accident. It is not practical because not every referee will stumble upon the same wording.

I do think it is practical to use circulars to define words which are unclear, because each referee should find broadly the same words to be unclear. But as you say, that is not what is happening here.

If you wish to analyse further, I suggest IFAB is the place to go (e-mail via their website)
Alternatively you may prefer to do that for something that occurs more regularly than this very rare occurrence.

Why can't you play nicely?
 
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newref

Active Member
This clause is not about performing a trick. It's about circumventing the laws.

Restart is IFK
Circumventing definition - to get around (something) in a clever and sometimes dishonest way. Some would regard circumventing the same as a trick.
 

GraemeS

RefChat Addict
Level 5 Referee
(^ Referring to the idea that all circulars pre-dating 1 June 2020 should be ignored)

Probably on the basis of habit. It is my habit to assume that authorities continue to have effect until such time as they are repealed or contradicted. I would not assume that all FIFA Circulars cease to have effect at the end of each season, as surely that would lead to a significant, annual effort to re-issue all of those which are deemed to continue to hold wisdom.
The laws of football are not a living system in the way that a true legal system generally is. That are a document stating that from the date of publication, football should be played in a certain way. As such, I would make the argument that if a circular doesn't make it into the next published LOTG book, it is either because it is consider esoteric enough that it's not required, or the writers now consider that question to be covered by the laws as written.

Old circulars can help us understand why laws came into place, and maybe can be used to help guide our thinking if a gap remains in the law in future publications. But the LOTG is intended to be all that is required to referee a football match, so we cannot expect a referee to have gone back and reviewed all previous circulars etc - that is simply too much of a burden or work to put on someone who is working at an amateur level.

There is actually some detail on the philosophy and the concept of what the laws are supposed to do in the opening few pages - I'd suggest reading the "Introduction" section again with this discussion in mind and seeing if that clarifies the intention of the laws a little. (And also, why "laws" is an inaccurate and pretentious title for a rulebook....)
 

ProbablyRubbish

New Member
Old circulars can help us understand why laws came into place, and maybe can be used to help guide our thinking if a gap remains in the law in future publications. But the LOTG is intended to be all that is required to referee a football match, so we cannot expect a referee to have gone back and reviewed all previous circulars etc - that is simply too much of a burden or work to put on someone who is working at an amateur level.
I am typing this prior to reading that Introduction you have recommended, but I think we agree on the part in bold.

I personally think the definition of "trick" remains a gap and so a circular offering a definition of that word would be relevant. From the discussion on here, it seems the word is defined as broadly as possible, essentially meaning "method". A player is not allowed to use "any method" to circumvent the back pass rule. However, the authors of the Laws have not used the word "method", they have used "trick", which (a) is a narrower word, (b) has a different meaning elsewhere in the Laws (also being used to mean "deceive"), and (c) has a different meaning in general football parlance. I think reasons (a) to (c) mean the definition of trick in Law 12 constitutes a gap which could be filled by circulars or other means.

But I do understand from @JamesL that (i) the proviso that a trick being intended to circumvent the spirit of the backpass law, is separate from (ii) a definition of the word trick. The proviso would narrow the scope of the circumvention offence. New referees cannot be expected to look up each law to see if it has been narrowed or broadened. Therefore it is impractical to incorporate the reference to contravening "the spirit" of the backpass law into the circumvention law.

But if there was a definition of the word "trick" provided in a circular - that would still be pertinent, imo. Since most people would want to know what "trick" means.
 

RustyRef

Administrator
Staff member
Some strange logic being applied here. If I'm looking up tax law to make sure I'm compliant I look at the current tax law, I don't go back and read clarifications that HMRC right have put out over the past 20 years.

Refereeing is no different. Any referee taking the course now gets taught the current LOTG, they don't cover FIFA circulars issued over the last x number of years. If any of those circulars change law they should be incorporated into the next LOTG revision, if they aren't they are no longer valid.
 

GraemeS

RefChat Addict
Level 5 Referee
I am typing this prior to reading that Introduction you have recommended, but I think we agree on the part in bold.

I personally think the definition of "trick" remains a gap and so a circular offering a definition of that word would be relevant. From the discussion on here, it seems the word is defined as broadly as possible, essentially meaning "method". A player is not allowed to use "any method" to circumvent the back pass rule. However, the authors of the Laws have not used the word "method", they have used "trick", which (a) is a narrower word, (b) has a different meaning elsewhere in the Laws (also being used to mean "deceive"), and (c) has a different meaning in general football parlance. I think reasons (a) to (c) mean the definition of trick in Law 12 constitutes a gap which could be filled by circulars or other means.

But I do understand from @JamesL that (i) the proviso that a trick being intended to circumvent the spirit of the backpass law, is separate from (ii) a definition of the word trick. The proviso would narrow the scope of the circumvention offence. New referees cannot be expected to look up each law to see if it has been narrowed or broadened. Therefore it is impractical to incorporate the reference to contravening "the spirit" of the backpass law into the circumvention law.

But if there was a definition of the word "trick" provided in a circular - that would still be pertinent, imo. Since most people would want to know what "trick" means.
People have pointed out multiple times that you're fixating on a single word in that law and ignoring the sentence. Stop trying to define trick and instead, define "using a trick to circumvent the law" and I think it's far clearer.
 

ProbablyRubbish

New Member
Some strange logic being applied here. If I'm looking up tax law to make sure I'm compliant I look at the current tax law, I don't go back and read clarifications that HMRC right have put out over the past 20 years.
Well you should if they relate to current law! Same as court judgements from decades ago! It's still applicable.

Not football related but worth noting.
 

ProbablyRubbish

New Member
People have pointed out multiple times that you're fixating on a single word in that law and ignoring the sentence. Stop trying to define trick and instead, define "using a trick to circumvent the law" and I think it's far clearer.
Och you're just not seeing my point.
 

socal lurker

RefChat Addict
Och you're just not seeing my point.

I'll be brief. You are choosing what you think the "spirit of the law" is and limiting it to time wasting. That's where you're wrong. That is a part of the spirit of the law, but it is also that players can't just kick the ball to the GK to take the ball out of play. By ignoring that aspect of the spirit of the law, you lose the thread.
 
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