The Back Pass: A completely different world of football

Before 1992, football players could pass the ball back to the goalkeeper allowing the shot-stopper to pick up the ball with their hands. Now, nearly 30 years on from the back pass rule change, it is difficult to think of football in which the goalkeeper could pick up the ball after receiving a pass from a fellow player.

For a generation of footballers and fans, a goalkeeper being allowed to pick up passes seems very foreign. The back pass rule prevents a goalkeeper to handle the football when it is passed to them by a teammate. If the ball is played back to the goalkeeper, they must now play the ball with their feet.

Previously, goalkeepers were able to collect the ball in their hands to throw it out or pass it out. Today, the only pass that a goalkeeper can pick up from a teammate is a headed pass. Teammates can also chest the ball back to the goalkeeper.

The back pass rule was introduced in a response to the 1990 World Cup. The tournament is infamous for being slow and boring. Teams continually passed the ball back to their goalkeepers to retain possession, making games long and tedious.

Before 1997, goalkeepers were allowed to pick up throw-ins from their teammates when the ball was tossed into the penalty area. The back pass rule was expanded five years after the original rule was put in place.

The punishment for picking up a pass from a teammate is an indirect free kick. The indirect free kick will take place at the point in which the infringement took place.

Prior to the back pass rule, football was a tidbit slower and teams could control the pace of the game by continually passing it back to the goalkeeper to pick up and hold onto for six seconds. The rule change altered football and has made it vital that goalkeepers be capable to play with their feet as well as their hands.

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