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Question Number: 32532

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 6/21/2018

RE: – Adult

Nik of Moscow, Moscow Russia asks...


Why the referee gave the penalty for the handball in the match Denmark - Australia today?

According to FIFA LOTG, the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an infringement.
There wasn't any movement of the hand towards the ball (the movement of the hand is more evidence of an attempt to avoid touching). Distance the ball travelled before striking the players hand was minimal.

There are some additional recommendations from UEFA as to which questions the referee should ask himself when deciding on such episodes, including the 'naturalness' of the arm position and 'making the body bigger' (but even there only answers to 2 of the 6 questions indicate that there was a violation, whereas 4 indicate that there wasn't).
It is also unclear for me how the internal recommendations of UEFA can refer to the FIFA tournament.

Anyway it seems to be at least an unclear episode for me. Why VAR referee initiated the review?
FIFA laws say:
'If the check does not indicate a clear and obvious error or serious missed incident, there is usually no need for the VAR to communicate with the referee " this is a silent check' '

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Nik
This is what the VAR protocols tells us
** Video technology will only be used to correct clear errors and for missed serious incidents in defined match-changing decisions:goal, penalty / no penalty, direct red card and mistaken identity (e.g.the referee cautions/sends off the wrong player).
If no review is needed then communication with the referee is not necessary–this is a ‘silent check’. If a ‘check’ indicates that an incident should be reviewed, the referee should be informed immediately.**
So what happened here was the VAR saw the incident and informed the referee that he, the referee, needed to review the incident. The referee reviewed the incident and awarded a penalty kick. So VAR was used correctly.
Now the second issue is whether it was deliberate handling or not. The reason it was given in my opinion was because the Danish player had his arm raised above his head and it made the player bigger. Clearly the ball struck the arm and while it was not intentional the player in the opinion of the referee has to be accountable for his actions which in this case was stopping the ball with a raised high arm.
As we have said so many times deliberate handling is now one of the most difficult calls in the game. I have argued that in situation where it is considered a technical handball such as this that the restart should be the technical restart of an IDFK.
In this instance the handling was not intentional in that the player deliberately and intentionally decided to handle the ball yet it was decided that it met the technical conditions of handling advice. As a result the award of a penalty kick was harsh with a caution as well. That was rubbing salt into the wound imo. Without VAR it probably would not have been given and argued afterwards both ways that it was ball to hand, player with his hands raised etc.
For what it is worth on other Referee fora referees are arguing for and against the decision based on unintentional, distance from the header, arms away and up from his body, made himself bigger, if it was a slide tackle it would be handling and on and on.
I think on review using video it would look *worse* than in real time. That is one of the issues with video replay.

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

As my colleagues have stated, there are several things that the referee looks for. The key is it must be DELIBERATE. Whether we admit it or not, every referee has a different definition of that..but we try to keep it consistent as possible. Things that we look for are 1.) Did the hand come to the ball? If yes, then it is going to be a foul everytime. If no, then we have to look further. 2.) Did the positions of the hand make the player bigger? 3.) Were the hands in a normal playing position? 4.) Was there adequate time to react. I think the answer for questions 2-4 was yes and thus the reason the PK was given.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Nik,
the referee is obligated to award a decision based on what he what he believes to have occurred! The VAR is also obligated to inform the referee if they believe he missed the event. When players jump with arms raised it makes the space they occupy bigger they tend to get punished if the ball is contacting the arm based on the fact the arm need not be there. The referee looked, saw and decided to go with the review. I think I might not have! The idea of a video review taints the perspective as it is NOT the same as in real time. I think the VAR was overly cynical here! I am a onboard with my colleague Ref McHugh position that there needs to be two SEPERATE handling calls one that is an INDFK only with no DOGSO for a speculative handling and reserve the PK/DFK DOGSO for an OBVIOUS swat at the ball.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Nik,
For me this was not a case of deliberate handling. In the first place I did not discern any intent on the part of the player, to handle the ball, meaning the primary requirement of the player's actions being deliberate has not been met. In addition, the Laws of the Game tell us that the following elements must be considered:

''the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an offence''

As I saw it, there was no movement of the hand towards the ball (in fact the opposite), the distance between the last contact by an opponent and the ball striking the player's hand was minimal (making this an unexpected ball leaving no time for the player to get his hand out of the way) and the player's hand was in a perfectly natural position for a player jumping to try and head the ball - and the Laws say that the position of the hand is not necessarily indicative anyway.

Obviously, since in my personal opinion this was not a clear and deliberate handling offence, then I also did not think it should have been the subject of a VAR review either.

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