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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 23210

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/29/2010

RE: Rec Adult

Iain of Southampton, UK asks...

Thinking of the Inter versus Barca semi-final last night, Toure's handball caused a foul to be called, although the handball was clearly largely inadvertent. However it did provide massive advantage to the Barca team. However, at the other end of the field no ref could have called a penalty for it as it appeared to be ball to hand. Is it correct that the foul should be called in these circumstances - it hardly seems right for the attacking team to gain immediate and direct advantage from a handball?

Answer provided by Referee Steve Montanino

I did not see the incidents in question - damn time zone differences!

This is one of those age-old questions. Should a non-deliberate handling offense that benefits the team in possession be penalized for handing it?

The answer is no. However, SOMETIMES (meaning not all of the time) the amount a team benefits may give the referee a tool to gauge if handling was deliberate or not.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

Referees would not consider whether after incidental contact, the ball drops advantageously to an attacker. 'Advantage' in this sense, is not an element of the foul (as many players believe). Referees look at the position of the arm and what the player does. If there is a tactical advantage to making a player bigger, it is likely that the attacker placed the arm there deliberately.

In the case of purely incidental contact, they also watch what the players do next. Professionals can shift the arm slightly to deliberately control the ball after it makes contact, and that is deliberate handling.

I did watch the match. Toure's arm appeared (to me) to be close to the body in a fairly natural playing position. But, of course, my chair was 6,000 miles away. The decision whether or not the handling was deliberate belongs solely to the referee whose angle of view is often different from the camera angle. The referee believed it did.
Although we don't know what the referee considered, it is more likely that the referee saw deliberate control by Toure after the inadvertent contact.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Iain
I watched the game and in my opinion the referee was correct to award the deliberate handling offence against Toure. He had his arm slightly raised in front of him and that directed the ball down. One could argue it was a natural arm movement. Another referee will have a different opinion and that is one of the real problems with determining whether the ball was handled deliberately or not. I believe it would have been a very brave call by the referee to allow play to continue on the basis that it was accidental.

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