The backpass law was introduced in 1992 to save football from the mind-numbing defensive tactics that marred the 1990 World Cup.
In the old days, goalkeepers were allowed to pick up backpasses. Whenever a defender found himself in any trouble he would simply turn towards his own goal and pass back.
Players would often also indulge in backpasses to waste time, to see if the ‘keeper was concentrating or so he could have a chat with someone in the crowd.
This resulted in the steady erosion of the game, as cynical defensive sides would kill 88 minutes in this way after taking an early lead.
Indeed, Argentina managed to play in the final of the 1990 FIFA World Cup after completing more than 11 billion backpasses and prevailing in a succession of contests so dull the public were warned not to watch more than one of their knockout games.
The 1992 law saved the game from the abyss and despite a brief period of complaints from ‘keepers and defenders it soon became clear that it was very silly that backpasses had ever been allowed.
These days a backpass is punishable by the ridiculous indirect free-kick, where 18 players pack into the six-yard box to watch the kick get blasted into someone's nuts.