Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 34278

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/31/2021

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


two 'new rules' situations, please.

Situation 1: Player A makes accidental handball. Then he makes foot (or head, etc.) pass to a teammate. This teammate scores. I think it's legal.

Situation 2: Player A makes accidental handball. Then he makes foot (or head, etc.) pass to a teammate. This teammate returns this ball to player A. Player A scores. I'm not sure how to decide here. :-)

Thank you very much!

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Petr,
There is a section that states we as referees should apply the Laws within the ‘spirit’ of the game to help produce fair and safe matches where our OPINION as a referee needs to be exercised as to what the LOTG are requesting us to do. Creating a distinction from deliberate which we ALL know is unfair to deciding if an accidental act of handling benefits the attack to the point where we will NOT allow it to continue or validate a goal scored has been pointedly to rule out ANY possibility of a tainted goal. For me, it used to depend on the timing and location perhaps they decided there were too long of delays in deciding if the handling aided the outcome unfavorably?

For what it is worth, while there is no infringement for accidental handlings they were pretty strict if that accidental handling provides a stable control result in an immediate goal or goal-scoring opportunity they wanted that called? I am in a state of confusion as it now appears they have rescinded that version and only a direct ball to arm to goal or teammate is cause for alarm? If the handling allows control to which then a pass is made as a secondary function or action they are now saying it's ok for play to continue as it's not an immediate or direct continuation?

Given your first situation is likely ok but there is every reason to think your 2nd would be as well.
In summary, accidental touch and continue to control and to attack no call
but if the control results in an immediate goal it likely is going to get called.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Petr,

The current (2021/22) wording on this aspect of Law 12 says a player is only guilty of an offence if s/he:

"scores in the opponents’ goal:

directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper

immediately after the ball has touched their hand/arm, even if accidental"

In neither of the cases you describe, has the goal been scored directly from or immediately after the accidental handball, so as I read it, both goals would be legal.

The explanation that accompanies the changed wording, I think further clarifies that the intent of the law is that the goal must both be scored by the player involved in the accidental handling and come as an immediate or direct result of it:

"Accidental handball by a team-mate before a goal is scored and accidental handball creating a goal-scoring opportunity have been removed as offences"

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
Thanks for the question.
Questions on handling continue to cause problems for referees. The previous changes have been updated to what is now quoted by my colleagues.
It is still totally in the opinion of the referee as to what constitutes accidental.
I watched a number of recent games in the Euros where situation 1 happened and play was allowed to continue. I think it is safe to say that if situation 1 is allowed then situations 2 will definitely be allowed.

I believe that what has happened is that the previous law change which has been superseded is still very much in referees’ thinking. In the Euro Final Referee Kuipers gave a free to England in what for me looked liked a purely accidental handling as it hit the Italian player, bounced on to his arm and down to the ground. It was inside the penalty area and I doubt if a penalty would have been awarded had it happened to a defender. That’s just an opinion.
The following addition is what the referee used
**A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation. By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised**

So for me it is easy on paper to call handling accidental where there are limited consequences. In reality I suspect many referees will call the handling as deliberate in situations that lead immediately to goal scoring opportunities.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34278
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 34940

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.