Marco Verratti and Ivan Perisic were once booked after heading ball back to their goalkeepers

  • Rob Swan

There’s one rule in football that still catches out professional players from time to time.

In 2017, Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti and Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic were both shown yellow cards after deliberately heading the ball back to their own goalkeepers.

During a Ligue 1 fixture against Nantes, Verratti had the ball at his feet outside PSG’s penalty area and got down on his hands and knees before completing the unorthodox back-pass.

The referee immediately ran over to the Italian midfielder and flashed a yellow card in his direction.

Verratti and his PSG teammates, as well as manager Unai Emery, all looked baffled by the decision.

You can watch the incident here…

One month later, Perisic was shown a yellow card for a very similar incident during a Serie A match between Inter and AS Roma.

In the sixth minute of the game, Perisic had the ball on his own byline and did a couple of kick-ups before heading the ball to goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

The same thing happened. The referee sprinted over to Perisic and showed him a yellow card.

Watch the clip here…

The Croatia international and his Inter teammates demanded answers.

Why were Verratti and Perisic shown yellow cards?

They seemingly had no idea that football’s rules stipulate that players are not allowed to use trickery in order to get around Law 12.

“No trickery may be used to get around the terms of the amendment to Law 12,” the rules stated at the time.

“A player may pass the ball to his own goalkeeper using his head, chest, knee, etc.; however, if, in the opinion of the referee, the player uses a deliberate trick — such as flicking the ball to his head with his foot and heading it to the goalkeeper or kneeling and deliberately pushing the ball to the goalkeeper with his head or knee — he must be cautioned for ungentlemanly conduct.

“It makes no difference whether or not the goalkeeper touches the ball with his hands; the offence is committed by the player who is seeking to circumvent both the Spirit and Letter of the Law.”


IFAB’s website states that an indirect free-kick should be awarded to the opposing team.

Point 12.2 says that an indirect free-kick is awarded if a player: “Initiates a deliberate trick for the ball to be passed (including from a free kick or goal kick) to the goalkeeper with the head, chest, knee etc. to circumvent the Law, whether or not the goalkeeper touches the ball with the hands; the goalkeeper is penalised if responsible for initiating the deliberate trick.”

You learn something new every day.


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