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Question Number: 33971

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 8/8/2020

RE: Rec Adult

Russell of Sydney, Australia asks...

oh, the irony!

Back in mid July post on this site - in regard to the latest HB ruling - I wrote ...

'A defender, in a wall within the PA, jumps and moves their arms (clearly deliberately) inside the silhouette of there body where the ball hits the arms. Not offence - due to not making the body bigger.'

I wrote this with the point that the '..moves the arms deliberately' was deliberate in stopping the ball - and so an offence. Yet, because such a movement is 'physically' seen as making the body NOT bigger, there is no handball offence.

The irony now is that seeing the penalty awarded in the recent Juve v Lyon UCL match - where the defender moved their arms inside their body and therefore in theory did not make their body bigger - was deemed an offence.

As mentioned back in mid July - inconsistency is the issue.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Russell,
I think the part of the law that applies here, is the bit very near the beginning of the section on handling, where it says:

"It is an offence if a player: deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, including moving the hand/arm towards the ball"

Lower down, it says:

"Except for the above offences, it is not an offence if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm:
• if the hand/arm is close to the body and does not make the body unnaturally bigger"

So as I read that, even though the player moved their arm inside the frame of their body and has not made their body unnaturally bigger, this does not provide an exemption to the earlier part of the handling offence wording which states that it is an offence to deliberately handle the ball by moving the hand/arm towards it.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Russell,

Personally I wouldn't be surprised if we keep seeing tweaks to the handball law. I think there are problems with both the implementation and the text at the moment.

Here is the incident in question -

There is really only one angle where you can see the ball strike the arm so that makes it difficult. The referee seems to be indicating that he thinks the defender moved his arm out - as the referee issues a card he mimes the elbow coming out. So, that suggests the referee believes it was a deliberate action. I can only presume the card was because it was potentially goal-bound without meeting the criteria for DOGSO. If it was going out there is no cause for a card.

However, what we can see on replay is that the elbow came out after being struck.

What is difficult to see from this angle is another possibility. I am not quite fully convinced that the ball was going to strike the body. He seems to turn his body away from the ball slightly - if he has turned his body away and the arm which is partially in front of the body as well as partially out to the side contacts the ball, then I would argue this is a foul - and has been under all the old iterations of the law.

And the fact that the ball took a slight deflection to the side suggests it took a glancing blow, so I do not think it was a simple case of the ball striking the arm that was brought up to the chest to try and avoid handling (which is what it looks like at first glance).

If that is not quite what happened, then it at least struck his upper arm which was immediately beside his body as he was protecting himself. If that is the case then there is probably an argument that with no time to react and nowhere else to put his arm (given it has to remain attached to the shoulder) that it is not a foul.

Like I said - difficult to tell from a single angle with a poor frame rate. I agree that consistency is a big issue for VAR with handball (because if it was completely unavoidable I would argue that, in theory, the VAR should have called for a review), and I think we are seeing more decisions which suggests referees are penalising all defensive handling in the PA, which is not what the law intends - although the law has so many contradictions that almost any decisions can be justified somehow.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
I have a sneaking suspicion UCL referees may have been advised to look for handling in defensive walls particularly when players jump or move.
It is not a VAR call as the referee makes it instantly and he is seen to gesture that the player moved his elbow towards the ball. The elbow moved yet it was after the ball struck the player. Also the player cannot move to his left as he has nowhere to move to plus the arm is at his side.
My own view is that it was not deliberate handling and that it may have looked like it the way the incident unfolded. With VAR available I personally think that the referee was hasty with a call and a card. Obviously VAR did not ask the referee ti look at the call as it was not a clear obvious error.
Experience over the years has shown me that referees have certain incidents that they deal harshly with. Another referee might let this slide or wait for VAR to highlight it. Or as I said does the referee have UEFA Referee Dept advice in his mind which says to look for handling in the wall.

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