Back-pass rule

The back-pass rule forbids the goalkeeper from catching the ball when it is passed to them by a teammate.

Before this rule was created defenders were allowed to pass the ball back to their goalkeeper, where the goalkeeper was allowed to pick up the ball. Not only did this lead to some strange additional rules, goalkeepers were then required to bounce the ball on the ground every four steps if they wanted to walk around their area with it in their hands — but it also produced a negative impact to the football game, as it was being seen as a hole which can be exploited.

If a team was under pressure at the back, they would simply give the ball back to their goalkeeper and the danger would be over. After the 1990 World Cup, which many regarded as the uninteresting and boring World Cup of all time, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or the International Federation of Association Football) decided to speed up the game by introducing the back-pass rule in 1992.

The back pass rule states that goalkeepers can no longer pick up back passes from their own defenders. If the ball is rolled back to them by a team mate using his feet, goalkeepers now have to play it with their feet or give away an indirect free kick close to goal if they pick it up.

As a result, goalkeepers have had to become far more adept with their feet than goal custodians of generations past. To this day, most goalkeepers choose to take no chances upon receiving a back pass, punting the ball high up the field, turning defense into attack, or into the stands, allowing the defense time to regroup.

Some goalkeepers take pride in their foot skills, however, and crowds always enjoy seeing their keeper roam from his box and outfox an opposition striker.