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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34111

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 1/25/2021

RE: Competitive Adult

Peter Banbage of Hjorring , Denmark asks...

That thorny question of the ball striking an attacker leading to a goal or goal scoring opportunity. Is this only if it leads directly there? Maybe an extreme case but the ball hits an attacker several yards outside the box on his arm. Unlikely a free kick would be awarded. The ball is then worked into the box via 2 or 3 more players and a goal is scored. My point being how far back in this scenario do we go back and decide if that lead to a goal or is it only if it happened directly?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
IFAB has opined in it explanation of this part of Law 12 that it is not an offence if, after an accidental handball, the ball travels some distance (pass or dribble) and/or there are several passes before the goal or goal-scoring opportunity.
As always that is a matter of interpretation for the referee yet say a ball hits an attacker on the arm accidentally some distance from goal and he runs on for a distance before shooting or crossing the ball that is not going to be called back for handling.
There was debate about an incident in a Liverpool game last season against Man City. The ball hit a Liverpool defender on the arm in his penalty area and then Liverpool went up the other end and scored. There was no way that accidental handling was part of the attacking phase.
For me the handling has to be within a second or so of the goalscoring opportunity with either an immediate shot or pass that leads to the OGSO. If play continues with a series of passes or lengthy dribble then it is not going to be called.
I also think that *selling* the handling call will require a fairly prompt whistle and not going back after play has moved on for a time in whatever fashion.
As always there will be outliers like the example mentioned by Referee Dawson and situations where an accidental handling at distance creates an opportunity for that attacker to run on unchallenged towards goal. Those should be called as creating an OGSO
My experience of these has been to only call bang bang OGSOs where the handling has led to an immediate situation inside or close to the penalty area.
Anywhere else gets treated as normal with the odd exception so if its not deliberate it does not get called.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Peter,
I have stressed this before the free-kick out for accidental handling resulting in a goal or an immediate opportunity for goal applies primarily for the PA circumstances. I have had one incident far outside the PA where I was befuddled. A keeper in trying to clear into what I thought might be touch is well outside their PA some 5 yards to the left. The clearance is smashed from about 4 yards away into the partially raised elbow of the rushing attacker who in my opinion was trying to shield their head whilst leaning back & half-turned, their hand was across the face the forearm shielding the eyes. The ball kareems off the elbow & off the side of the head, moving up the FOP but more into the center of the pitch where an astute attacker getting to the loose ball immediately volleyed the ball some 50 yards back OVER the keeper and had it bounce into the goal. TECHNICALLY despite the distance, the accidental redirection created a scoring opportunity directly attributable to the handling incident. I would NEVER have thought to not award the goal in my 40 plus years as a referee until now.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Peter,
In the scenario as you have outlined it, there would be no handling offence. As ref McHugh correctly points out, the IFAB has specifically and clearly stated that there is no offence if, after the potential offence, there are then several passes before the goal or goalscoring opportunity occurs.

The IFAB has also put various other constraints on this, in that they state that subsequent to the accidental contact, the goal or goalscoring opportunity must occur either "directly," "immediately," or before the ball has traveled "some distance" (or before "several passes)."

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