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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33957

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/7/2020

Petr of Prague, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...


one situation please.


Attacker kicks the ball. This ball touches a defender*s body and then his hand, which is over his shoulder level (or makes his body unnaturally bigger).

Q1: Is it offense or not? It does not seem clear to me.

These parts of the rules confuse me.

It is an offence if a player touches the ball with their hand/arm when:

-the hand/arm has made their body unnaturally bigger

-the hand/arm is above/beyond their shoulder level (unless the player DELIBERATELY !!! plays the ball which then touches their hand/arm)

Q2: What if it is unintentional as in my situation?

The above offences apply even if the ball touches a player*s hand/arm directly from the head or body (including the foot) of ANOTHER PLAYER !!! who is close.

Q3: What if the another player is a teammate?

EXCEPT !!! for the above offences, it is not an offence if the ball touches a player*s hand/arm:

-directly from the player*s OWN HEAD OR BODY !!! (including the FOOT)

Q4: Does this only apply to the natural position of the hand? Possibly when the player plays the ball deliberately? :-)

Thank you very much!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
IFAB has made further changes to Law 12 in respect of handling. The wording is not great and it can lead to confusion. However some parts have improved significantly such as the goalscoring opportunity and goal off an arm / hand.
On Q1 perhaps the best way is to show examples
In this example Rojo heads the ball and it hits his raised outstretched arm. That was not considered handling and it was the correct decision.
In this example Pique #Red 3 has his arm raised above his head making himself bigger so it was the correct decision. He tries to say that his arms were up to assist with his jump and the contact was accidental. Both may be the case yet the Law says it is handling.
On Q2 if the player heads / plays the ball and then strikes his arm unintentionally that is not considered handling.
Q3 It makes no difference if the player is a team mate. The team mate is a player so if the team mate plays the ball, hits his team mates head and then his arm unintentionally that would not be considered handling.
Q4. If the player's hand is in a natural position it is generally not handling unless the action was deliberate such as deliberately allowing the ball to hit the arm/ hand in that natural position or the goal situations.
The takeaway from all this is that if a player plays the ball and it unintentionally hits his arm that is generally not considered handling.
If a player raises his arm about his head stopping the ball it is considered handling unless it is played legally by the player.
When the ball hits an attacker's hand to create an immediate goal scoring opportunity or goal that is called as handling even if definitely unintentional.

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