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Question Number: 33834

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 1/11/2020

RE: Adult

Richard of Brentwood, Uk asks...

A cross comes in from the wing into the penalty area and the ball hits both defender and attacker simultaneously on their arms and the ball deflects into the net. Is this handball by the attacker and the goal disallowed.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Richard,
Bear in mind that the handling by both players may have to be considered differently:-
- handling by an attacker here (given it directly leads to the goal) is a foul, no matter what
- handling by the defender may be a foul, or it may be accidental. So we're a lot stricter on the attacker than the defender here.

So, the attacker has committed a foul. If we decide the defender's handling fits into the 'non-foul' category, then it's a DFK for the defence. If we also decide the attacker's handling occurred a moment earlier, it's the same outcome.

It's only if the defender's handling is a foul, then we start worrying about simultaneous fouls - but this is incredibly unlikely. If that was the case, then while previous laws would require a drop ball, now we prioritise impact, including field position - that is to say, simultaneous fouls of equal severity between an attacker and a defender in the PA will result in a PK, because of the tactical consideration of the PK.

So, you'd disallow the goal and award the PK - you can't apply advantage because it's a goal off attacking handling, and you can't allow a foul for advantage to materialise.

It's a messy scenario, no doubt. Personally, I'd be really, really wanting to find a way I can consider the defender's handling to be a non-foul.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Richard,
Simultaneous offences of any nature are highly unusual - in almost every single case, one offence happens slightly before the other, even if only by the the very tiniest fraction of a second. Given that handling occurs even less frequently than other offences, the chances of two simultaneous handling offences are vanishingly small. So in the real world, I think we can be pretty confident this is not actually going to happen.

Now in the purely hypothetical scenario where it were to occur, the law says that the referee punishes the more serious offence in terms of sanction, restart, physical severity and tactical impact, in that order. So if this were to happen, which as I say, it almost certainly wouldn't then, as I see it we're tied on the first three and so the tactical impact would decide it. The guideline for assessing tactical impact says that:

''an offence which stops an opponent's attack is more important than one which ends a player's own team attack''

So on that basis, a penalty for the attacking team should technically take precedence over a direct free kick for the defending side - but in the real world, I suspect that as ref McHugh suggests, most referees might see the attacker's offence happening just fractionally before the defender's as a better overall outcome for the game.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Richard
A goal cannot be scored through an accidental handball.
Now we know simultaneous offences are extremely rare with one happening before the other.
I would say most referees will call handling against the attacker in such situations.
If the defender handled the ball first then a penalty kick would be awarded. It would not be possible to play advantage in such a situation.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Richard .
It could likely be a free kick out as a goal is not permitted off an accidental handling. Yet what circumstances might change that assumption? It is a HIGHLY unlikely situation. If the defenders' handling was deliberate as a DFK or PK that is a serious foul versus an attacker having an accidental ball contact winding up as a goal for a free kick out out. IF this was the case a free kick or pk but no goal for the attackers is likely option. No advantage because goals off handling are not permitted! A yellow card caution shown for USB or even a red card send off for DOGSOH , if the defender's action warranted it! If the attacker was responsible it would be a yellow card shown for USB!

I have seen players grab the opponents' arms and pull them to simulate a strike. I would consider THAT as a deliberate attempt to play the ball should your once in a million games actual ball contact with both players' arms occur . Personally I think one player or the other should be seen as at fault ,. The powers that be really do no like to find simultaneous fouls and always push the most severe event takes precedent when determining fouls.

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