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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34940

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/2/2023

Crebs Crem of Zagreb, Croatia asks...

This question is a follow up to question 34278


In situation 2, let us assume that the passing between player A and B went very quick and player A could score in less than 3-4 second after the ball accidentally hit his/her arm. In this case, when interpreting the ball, I guess the referee shall disallow the goal. My reasoning is, since the law says it is an offence if a player scores in the opponents’ goal immediately after the ball has touched their hand/arm, even if accidental. In this case, the law doesn't state any passing attempt nor deliberate play by another player. Therefore, one might interpret that player A scored immediately (just in 3-4 seconds) after the ball touched his/her arm. Am I thinking right?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Crebs,
perhaps the reasoning to not permit a goal caused by a random ball off the attacker's arm was public perception of fairness? It just looks or feels wrong to achieve a goal by handling ! Possibly because there is an instinctive desire to attempt to play the ball, be it a bat or flick or any arm movements as players try to attack, as part of the natural desire to play or challenge for the ball. Yet lately, on the opposite end of the spectrum, most every ball/arm contact on a defender seems to result in a PK inside the PA. Is that hypocrisy or irony?

The LOTG implies we as referees have the discretion to judge the ‘validity’ of the hand/arm’s position in relation to what the player is doing in that particular situation but it appears to me despite the FIFA explanation statement, "Not every touch of a player’s hand/arm with the ball is an offence." that the handling issue has been one of, if it happens, it is a foul, more than not, simply because it an easier decision to say, yes it was, than no, it was not.

The LOTG now indicate it is an DFK offence if
a player scores (DIRECTLY) from -THEIR- hand/arm in the opponents’ goal be it accidentally or on purpose
a player scores (IMMEDIATELY) after the ball has touched -THEIR- hand/arm, even if accidental or on purpose

If you followed the LOTG changes on the recent deletions and subsequent inclusion of handling criteria they are significant in they focus is on the ONE attacking shooter as a very specific part of the FIFA explanation indicates that an accidental handball by a team-mate before a goal is scored or an accidental handball creating a goal-scoring opportunity were REMOVED as offences.

In my opinion, additional actions like a pass or a redirection off an opponent that creates another scoring opportunity resulting in a goal by another player is in fact allowed as the restrictions clearly indicate a one-person shooter in the use of the word, "their!"

Direct for Player A
-could be any rebound where a ball favorably deflects off -their- arm into the goal with no touch by any of the other players .

Immediate for Player A
-could be ball hits arm, falls favorably at feet, dribbles, Kicks ball into goal!
-could be ball hits arm, falls favorably at feet, dribbles, Kicks ball towards the goal, hits defender or defender tries to clear, ball enters goal
-could be ball hits arm, falls favorably at feet, dribbles, Kicks ball towards the goal, hits teammate, ball enters goal
-could be ball hits arm, falls favorably at feet, dribbles, Kicks ball towards the goal, hits goalpost/crossbar, ball enters goal
-could be ball hits arm, falls favorably at feet, he shoots, ball rebounds back directly to him, 2nd time, Kicks ball into goal
-could be ball hits their arm, ball falls favorably to a team mate who, Kicks ball into goal!
-could be ball hits arm, falls favorably at feet, then redirects ball towards a teammate who Kicks ball into goal.

I recently tried to imagine several scenarios where the possible outcome MIGHT be affected by how we are -currently- interpreting this action. We can imagine the ways of how a ball could accidentally be kicked into PLAYER A by the opposition or a teammate, including a rebound off the post or crossbar or a ball that he himself kicks or plays and accidentally deflects into his own arm.

IF PLAYER A, after, the accidental handling, was to pass the ball away to a team mate or moves away from goal, not taking the shot but instead looking to continue attacking play, accordingly, this is NOT the accidental handling DFK moment, as PLAYER A has NOT directly or immediately scored the goal.

However, what is LIKELY to occur, especially if this pass originates from inside the opposing PA and occurs close to or in front of goal, should a subsequent goal be scored quickly either by a teammate or a defenders' own goal, it is quite probable the DFK Out for the handling to be defined as DELIBERATE simply as a matter of expedience!

Of course, should PLAYER A, after a bit of dribbling or repositioning for control , without anyone else, having secondary ball contact, simply shoot & score, THAT, is essentially a direct/immediate opportunity and if occurring within a few seconds deemed an illegal advantage, the accidental ball to arm contact, rendering the opportunity. What becomes iffy is the TIME when the shot or pass occurs is no longer immediate. We suggested that rather like advantage a few seconds of wait and see, yet is that doable, given the language used was immediate?

Think on a ball accidentally handled outside the PA, PLAYER A gains control and either immediately or for a second or two proceeds to dribble along the touchline then crosses the ball into the opposing PA where an open team mate heads it in for a good goal. Or think on PLAYER A is able to obtain possession of a loose ball that accidently hit his arm, from a defenders' clearance outside the PA and has the opportunity to dribble said ball through the midfield into the PA, goes one on one with the keeper, shoots and scores! Previously these were considered to not be allowed as the opportunity to score was a result of an accidental handling falling favorably for an advantage, creating attacking opportunity. Yet these opportunities are not directly nor immediately and a teammate doing the scoring is NOT the individual who had the ball strike THEIR arm!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Crebs
Thanks for the question
Referees are left to determine what is meant by immediately and certainly a window of 3/5 seconds could easily fit that description.
A lot can happen in that timeframe. I recall a goal that was disallowed on Rashford of Man Utd in a recent game v Everton
See 3.20 on the video
The incident happened some 30 yards from goal and it would easily fit the immediately criteria,
Without VAR it probably would have been allowed as the handling was not deliberate and difficult to see in real time.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Crebs,
I think I would have to stick with my original answer to the reference question, which is that if there has been an exchange of passes between players after the initial accidental handling, then I would most probably not consider that as being immediate.

I think we have to look at the "spirit of the law" here. When the law on accidental handling was changed recently it was to eliminate both the scenario of an accidental handball by one player leading to a goal by another and the scenario of an accidental handling that occurred too long before a goal was scored, leading to the goal being disallowed.

The overall intent of this change as I understand it was to mean that the goal must be scored either directly by the player who committed the accidental handling and/or almost immediately after the handling occurred. And neither of these scenarios (or so it seems to me) is it envisioned that a second player would be involved after the accidental handling occurred. For me, the changes seem to suggest the idea that for the goal to be disallowed, the player who committed the accidental handling would be the only one involved in the goal being scored. YMMV

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