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Question Number: 26975

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/4/2012

RE: Select Under 13

Michael Dillard of Redwood City, CA United States asks...

I was reffing a match recently where a possible handling offense occurred. The situation is this:

Two attacking players and one defender had broken away. One attacker was in an offside position at about the 12, the attacker with the ball was the top of the 18, and the defender was in between the two attackers running towards the attacker in an off side position with his back to the attacker with the ball. The defender had positioned himself in between the goal and the attacker with the ball.

The attacker with the ball shoots, but the ball hits the hand (elbow) of the defender who is running. His arm was in a normal running position, and he did not move his arm towards the ball. However, had his arm not been there, a goal would have been scored (the angle was such that the keeper would not have been able to get to it).

I did not award a PK, but after the match two other (more senior) referees told me they would have. What is the correct call?

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Did the defender deliberately handle the ball? It doesn't sound like it to me. He didn't even see the ball coming.

The attacker should have aimed better and not kicked the ball at the defender's arm.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Michael
Deliberate handling has always been a matter of opinion on the questionable calls. There are clear cut one where the player actually uses the hand or arm to move, propel the ball which is deliberate and at the other end of the scale the ball bounces up hitting the player's hand in a natural position which is not. Then there is the gray area in between which is the matter of opinion. The site has received umpteen questions on the gray area ones over the years and no doubt will continue to receive more.
From what you describe it does not read as deliberate handling as the player has his arm in a natural position and he is moving away from the ball. So based on your description I would say the correct call was made.
As regards what your colleagues saw, that was from a different angle of view and perhaps with a different interpretation. Did they see an arm that was extended more from the side? Could the defender have tried to avoid the ball hitting his arm but chose not to? Did the player's movement make himself 'bigger' by moving his arm wider even at the side?
So you made what you believed was the correct call. Another referee may have called it differently. You made what was the 'best' call for the game based on your training and interpretation.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

From your description, the ball was not deliberately handled. If it was not deliberate, there is nothing else for the referee to do but continue with play. We do not get into whether it was trifling or doubtful or if it disadvantaged the attack - none of that is relevant, because there was NO foul.

Your call was correct based on your description of what you saw. Your colleagues are in the category of too little knowledge leads to poor calls, unless they saw something you did not or could not. But, if they didn't offer what they saw, then I suspect they are in the category of referee who thinks if the ball hits the arm, it's a foul, regardless, which is just patently wrong. Note the Laws of the Game clearly say 'deliberately handles the ball'.

Glad you thought it through and made a good decision. Keep up the good work!

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

What deliberate action did the defender take? Your non call was correct. Far too many referees (including senior) blow the whistle every time contact is made between hand and ball. This is incorrect

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