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Question Number: 34611

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 6/1/2022

RE: rec Adult

sal of CHICAGO, IL USA asks...

Shot on goal from a short distance and very powerful, the ball has a goal direction but hits the arm of the defender standing on the goal line. He was caught off guard and the handling was not intentional, he also had his arm close to his body. Would you award a PK for something like this

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Sal,

The fact that a goal was stopped is not a consideration in our decision on whether a foul occurred - it only affects the card IF we give a foul (though we have to keep in mind that the attacking team will probably respond quite poorly if we don't give the penalty. As referees, we must have the courage to make the correct decision, even if it's difficult, but we need to anticipate reactions to manage them more effectively).

Take the goal out of the equation and judge the potential foul like normal. If the arm is not making the body unnaturally bigger (that is, the position of their arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player's body movement for that specific situation), and they've had no real opportunity to react, then it sounds like no foul.

Here, you need to react quickly, loudly and assertively. I would have a loud shout of 'NO! Accidental! Keep playing!'. In the past, I've even continued to shout along those lines for a few more seconds - it drowned out the immediate dissent and left me with no further arguments to deal with.

This will likely be what's called a Moment of Truth - a pivotal moment for your match control, and you need to find the balance between stopping dissent, and coming down too harshly and just getting the team even further offside, so to speak.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Sal,
my colleague's response is similar to my own.. NO FOUL! NOTHING THERE! ACCIDENTAL CONTACT! because THAT is the DECISION! Given by how you described the incident it would appear to be the correct one in THAT particular incident. The arm close certainly helps but does it turn into the ball palm out push away, or is it pulling away, or does it just hang naturally against the side of the body? ?

If indeed it was a different decision , which in some cases given the arm positioning aspect is expressed in greater detail within the LOTG then in the past, players could readily accept the decision as normal if followed by a whistle, show the red card send off reduce them a player and restart with the PK as the easier selling option.

SO yes, it has a BIG impact!

You KNOW the criteria, you use your experience and you judge it based on, what did you see? Yet it is still your OPINION, (Was it a foul or not?) that decides where you go from there!

We refer to such incidents as CI moments (critical incidents) where you as referee must SELL that decision as one that leaves no room for doubt even if seeds of doubt flourish within your own mind! In years past the intention was judged now, we look to deliberate MOVEMENTS and possible avoidance. A player can now unintentionally be guilty of deliberate handling not because he wanted that to occur and reached out but placed his body in an blocking position where the arm and ball contact might occur and not be able to get out of the way.

Your match control is certainly tested because while one side will be wonderfully appreciative the other is likely apocalyptic with disbelief.

By jumping on the incident and letting play continue with a forceful shut-it and move-on approach, the dissent should like falter as the need to keep playing is of greater importance especially if a counter attack or an ongoing attack is in the works.

Mind you the yips and yelps might again start up if by chance there was another stoppage fairly quickly (for something else, hopefully not for deliberate handling by them sigh) as the hangers-on of disappointment of the accidental impact a short while ago they refuse to let it go & will likely make a fuss to approach and complain bitterly.

Spectators and parents see what they think they know, players see what they feel is right, coaches see what they want for a result. A referee with integrity sees what he sees!

Korea 2002 USA was playing Germany and the German defender had a ball, the referee at the time decided, struck his arm . I recall a lot of debate about that. NO PK was awarded no goal allowed and play was allowed to continue. Yup USA was pretty peaved claiming if it was the other way around it would get called! Now that is a like saying the referee cheated which I do not believe occurred but the concept the big boys get the more benifical outlook of such things permeates the world of soccer ! lol You be the judge! lol


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Sa
The great handling debate.
Rarely do we see intentional handling where a player knowingly moves the ball with the hand to stop it or redirect it favourably. I saw one at the weekend where a player on the goal line raised his hand like a goalkeeper to stop the ball crossing the goal line. Certain deliberate handling, stonewall penalty and a red card with zero debate.
Now there were several other DHBs given in the game and none were clear cut yet none had any game changing impact. All resulted in the ball hitting players arms in what the referee decided made the players bigger. Those can go either way and therein is the problem for the game unless of course it results in a goal by the handler in which case it must be called even if accidental. The law was updated in June 2020 yet changed again last year with most of what was written previously being removed.

IFAB told us about the changes that and I quote "As the interpretation of handball incidents has not always been consistent due to incorrect applications of the Law, the members confirmed that not every touch of a player’s hand/arm with the ball is an offence. In terms of the criterion of the hand/arm making a player’s body “unnaturally bigger”, it was confirmed that referees should continue to use their judgment in determining the validity of the hand/arm’s position in relation to the player’s movement in that specific situation.""
Has anything changed!!

Your description uses a number of subjective terms such as short distance, powerful, off guard, and close to the body. Now not every referee will see the situation exactly the same way and some may award a penalty kick. The game is littered with ones that are given and ones that are waved away.

Many may recall the deliberate handling by Harry Kewell in the 2010 WC game between Australia and Ghana. It was a powerful shot from 10 yards, Kewell is on the line and the ball hits him on the arm. Was 10 yards - short, the shot was powerful, Kewell is sort of stood there and videos show him closing his eyes and the ball makes contact with his arm close to his side which he does not move.
Personally I believe it was the correct call of a penalty and a red card. Kewell was more upset about the red card as he felt it was harsh. He said that he did not intentionally handle the ball although there was no doubt the ball made clear contact with his arm. Once the PK was awarded it had to be a red card.
I suppose the key questions is whether in these situations a player could have "avoided" the ball . So could Kewell have avoided the ball? I think he could have and therefore he had to accept the consequences of the ball making contact with his arm

Based on your description I would not be awarding a penalty kick as it is not describing a deliberate handling . If it was DHB it also requires a red card for denying a goal in addition to the penalty.

Now the non award will attract howls of dis-approval by the attacking team as contact on the arm on the goal line will be seen as stopping a certain goal. It is always a tough decision as one side will see it as denying a certain goal while the other side will not see it as deliberate.
Either decision will result in a negative outcome and there is no decision that does not have a drawback. That is why referees are there to make a call based on their knowledge and training. I suspect that the referee's call was no penalty and perhaps needing some assurance that the correct call was made. The description does not meet the deliberate handling criteria yet we all know that it can be seen differently by others.

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