Definition of Back-pass Rule



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What is the back-pass rule in the game of soccer?

Until year 1992 defenders were able to pass the ball to their goalies and goalies were allowed to handle it. This was slowing the game down and provided opportunities for time-wasting. The pinnacle of time-wasting came at the World Cup 1990, which is remembered as boring and slow. The teams were not shy to kill the minutes on the clock by holding up play and passing back to the goalie.

In 1992 the back-pass rule was introduced, which prohibits goalies to handle the ball when it is passed to them by a team-mate. The rule was expanded in 1997 to include throw-ins.


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The back-pass rule introduction has been a great success and has much improved and sped up the beautiful game of soccer. Goalies are now forced to use their feet more and become more skilled and involved in play.

After the back-pass rule was introduced, we have seen the rise of sweeper-keepers.