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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 32487

Law 18 - Common Sense 6/1/2018

RE: Rec women Adult

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

I wish I had a video of this play, that turned up last week. I'll describe it as best I can.

Women's rec, 7-a-side game. Throw-in comes toward an attacker, who is 'gently' backing into a defender. Defender puts her (bent elbow) forearms against the attacker's back, to cushion the contact.

The ball arrives chest high and the attacker bends over to nod the ball on with the back of her head. She mostly misses and immediately stands upright.

Meanwhile, the defender is standing there with her arms in the upright position, hands just under her chin. The ball hits her hands and gets trapped between her arms and the now-upright back of the attacker.

The defender is of course shocked, then paralyzed, as the attacker is keeping the pressure on the ball.

I've seen the history of the problem and am giving the defender the benefit of the doubt, while hoping the problem will resolve itself. Quickly.

It's getting stale, though, like a long amber traffic light. It's about time the defender at least gets her arms out of contact with the ball. As I get ready to raise my whistle, the ball squirts loose and I yell, 'Keep going!'

Play continues and there is no issue.

My question: I'm going to assume I did the right thing, but if it had continued in this frozen state: would it be handball or drop ball?

As always: thanks for your time and effort, in helping improve the state of soccer officiating.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Barry,
Not deliberate is not deliberate I think you did just fine! I thank you as well for spreading knowledge and goodwill in your own neck of the woods!
I recall a bouncing ball where an attacker was trying to ride the ball into the goal with her chest as defender trying to kick it clear and the ball went up into her face where her hands & arm cover her chin in a reflexive action . I immediately shouted, NOT DELIBERATE KEEP PLAYING! I do this for two reasons as a regular thing to
indicate I did see the contact I did not MISS it & to ensure they do not stop or get the deer in the headlights pause as it does tend to put players off. As my colleague Ref McHugh points out even if the handling started out as not deliberate continuing it risks it becoming so.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
The key for me is the lack of effort by the defender to *release* the ball quickly to the ground. The first contact on the ball with the arms was entitled to be seen as not deliberate so no offence and play should continue .
However continuing to *contact* the ball with arms was in my opinion the offence of deliberate handling. As described the defender could have avoided the ongoing *hold* of the ball and that the player may have deliberately continued an initially accidental contact for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage.
In your example I believe that you came to that conclusion that it was DHB and the ball squirting loose helped make a decision to allow play to continue which was based on the first part of the action by the defender which was not deliberate. Probably couple that with the fact that nothing changed much between the accidental part and the deliberate part so there was no real unfair advantage gained which helped with the no issue part to the no call.
Anyway it is a very rare event and one that will not challenge referees very much. The learning point is that a player should be penalised for continuing to touch the ball with an arm after an accidental touch that is not deliberate. Redirection of the ball with an arm after an accidental touch with the arm is deliberate handling.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Barry,
I think you've done well here. The unusual situation doesn't change the fact that handling must be deliberate. The defender has had their arms in a reasonably position given the situation, the ball was deflected onto her arms and she had no chance to react. The fact the the ball remained caught doesn't change anything in your initial assessment - it was completely accidental.

What happens after this point can change things. At some point you'd have to say she has had a reasonable opportunity to react to the situation - she has an obligation to release the ball. That comes down to a subjective measure of how long is a reasonable opportunity to respond.

Sounds like that was exactly your thought process, so well done.

Had you blown the whistle, the restart would be a DFK against the defender - it would be deliberate handling because she's made the decision to keeper her arms in that position trapping the ball.

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