Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

To me this was a backpass – what do you think?
January 20, 2009, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Refereeing | Tags: , , ,

In the clip below MLS teams Toronto and Columbus are tied and the match has entered the second minute of a total of two minutes of added time.

The Columbus goalkeeper kicks the ball upfield to try and launch one last attack.  A Toronto player passes the ball towards his fullback but a Columbus attacker actively pressures for control and tries to win the ball as it heads to the defender.

The defender shields the ball and lets it go through – challenged by the attacker – to the Toronto goalkeeper. The goalkeeper picks it up with the onrushing attacker only a few steps away.

To me that is a backpass. To the referee and assistant referee it was perfectly legal. What do you think?

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14 Comments so far
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I feel that this was not a backpass. It looks like the ball was passed the defend who was nearly beat by the attacker and the keeper had to step in.

Comment by Paul

I agree with Paul. The pass was clearly intended for the defender, who simply chose not to receive it. The ball was rolling freely and happened to get to the keeper. We have problem like this in youth soccer, where a defender chooses to dribble the ball through the penalty area and the keeper wisely steps in and takes the ball, often the opposition wants a pass to keeper call, where in fact, the keeper stole the ball from his defender.

Comment by Kelly G

I do not feel it was a backpass as the pass was intended for the defender not the goalkeeper. As the previous correspondant states, as the defender was under pressure, the goalkeeper came to help out.

Comment by Mark Smith

This is 100% a backpass. The player obviously passes it back to the keeper, you can tell by his stance and the power he is putting in to the pass. The fact a defender defends the ball is trivial. Stone wall back pass I am afraid

Comment by Thomas

No way back pass. The pass was clearly intended for the defender, who simply chose not to receive it. The rule is only there to stop time wasting not to give free kicks in the area.

Comment by steve weitzel

this was not a back pass, the rule clearly states it’s only a back pass if the keeper handles the ball when passed directly to him from a team mate, you can see that the player intended the ball to go to the defender, the defender then chose to let the ball run through to the keeper, it was not an intentional pass from player to keeper. the only way i could see this being given as if a shout was giving by the passing player to the keeper, but we cant hear that, and i assume the ref would.

Comment by dave

Law 12 states an offense is committed if the goalkeeper “touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked
to him by a team-mate”
Only the player making the pass knows who it was intended for, it was a decision that could have gone either way, looks like the ref played it safe, easier decision to sell to the players.
Did any of the attacking team claim a freekick?

Comment by Mark Burford

I wonder if this sort of confusion would be especially prevalent in American Soccer. For example, I cannot imagine this happening in the Mexican league, because the players in that league would have the team field presence and the ball handling skills to either dribble out of that trouble, or make a short series of passes out to get the ball out of the area.

I’m not sure I agree that the pass had such pace that it was intended for the keeper, especially in that crowd of bodies. Perhaps because it was late in the game (tired, poor judgement?), surely it was a very bad idea sending the ball backwards into the box, especially since he had a guy moving to the sideline into space to help him.

Comment by David Hardt

It’s not a backpass! The pass was for the defender who decides not to intercept it. Good decision by the keeper to step in.

Comment by Arturo

The intent of the pass was toward the defender. However, by the defender shielding it and letting the ball go the ‘intent’ now is toward the goalkeeper. I think the defender made the first mistake not to kick the ball away. Then, the keeper made the mistake not to keep the ball away. That should have being considerered a back pass. It would have been the same as the defender opening his legs and letting the ball go through his legs so that the ball reaches the goalie. The goalie can not touch it with his hands.

Comment by Leo

The rules are intentional pass to the keeper
which this was not.

Comment by Guy

I think that the referee got this correct!
The ball was clearly played back to a defender who, under pressure, allowed it to run into the penalty box for the keeper to collect. Therefore, it was not a deliberate passback to the ‘keeper. The reason for the introduction of this rule years ago was to cut down on excessive time wasting (and this certainly wasn’t the case here). Therefore, both technically and in terms of common sense the decision was absolutely spot on.

Comment by Shawkido

I don’t know how many of these comments are from referees, but I must say I’m impressed! As a referee, I was expecting a barrage of ‘BACKPASS!’ shouts but instead, we get a huge majority with the correct answer. No backpass due to no intent.

Comment by Craig

The rule is “touches it (the ball) with his hands after it being deliberately kicked to him by a teammate..” Looking closely, the ball was definitely not into the defenders feet and is more in the direction of the keeper. I would have called it a back pass. For some reason the keeper felt it was not. TFC was lucky.

Comment by Kevin

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