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: 34996

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 6/2/2023

RE: Retired referee Adult

Eric Owusu Mensah of Kumasi , Ashanti Ghana asks...

This question is a follow up to question 2062023

After carefully watching the Roma vs Servile match,I want your outfit to explain to me how to interpret the following.
1.Was the referee right for not taking the penalty for Roma?
2.If yes please do explain to me.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Eric
Thanks for the question
I watched the game in real time and I must say it was one of the worst finals I have seen in a long time. Neither team created very much and it was a battle for the referee to maintain control and discipline. Little pure soccer was played and extra time was littered with injuries. Sevilla matched Roma in dragging the game down to unwatchable levels, to a point where no one cared other than the respective supporters who won. .The technical areas were a shambles with every single decision contested. A poor advert for the game.
I was disgusted with the attitude of Roma management during and after the game including in the car park towards the referee and indeed the conduct of some Roma fans at the airport towards the referee and his family was nothing short of disgraceful.

Now to the penalty call the referee decided that the player had his arm at his side in a regular position and that the ball hit him. Was it a deliberate action and we can debate all day long whether it was DHB or not. A straw poll of referees will probably show that there is no unanimity in a decision. If it was given the referee would have received abuse in equal measure from Sevilla. Damned if you do or damned if you don't.
In real time it was shown that the referee was motioning that the Sevilla player had his arm close to his side not away from it and the ball hit the player. Could he have avoided it is the big question and to be honest players don’t think or act like that. To me it looked like the arm was going back rather than towards the ball hence the no call. I saw no movement to the player's left into the flight of the ball. Do we as referees call deliberate handling every time the ball hits an arm? That is not what the Law says.
Clearly the game was subject to VAR and indeed one penalty award was cancelled after review. I’m sure VAR would have also requested a review if it was felt that the DHB call was in error. VAR asked the referee to review the one penalty call that was awarded against Roma and the call was overturned based on a slight touch on the ball in the challenge so if the VAR had any doubt that an error was made on the handling call it would have been reviewed on-field.

For me the fault lies in the Law in that deliberate handling is now still the most controversial decision in the game with every single touch of an arm appealed and in too many cases awarded incorrectly.
I was at a junior game recently and the referee gave a penalty which in my opinion was harsh. The ball bounced up awkwardly and hit the player on the arm which was close to his side. Again another referee could have waived it away as not deliberate.

What annoys me most is that teams look at the referee as an easy target of abuse. Any neutral looking at the game would have seen poor performances by both sides with little created by way of real goal scoring opportunities. No word of clear chances that were missed with two obvious ones by Roma. The focus then is on one questionable decision in 120 minutes of soccer which took 147 minutes to complete in total. The ball was in play for 45% which meant that for 80 minutes the ball was out of play
I hope the next final serves up better entertainment than this!!

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Eric,
I am hoping we can get a video review of the incident in question as it is speculation only in any real time match decision . A neutral referee with integrity, makes a decision to allow play or stop play based on what he observes from his angle of view in the instant it occurs.

I echo my colleagues views, the deplorable behaviour by ROMA and its supporters from manager to the buffoons in the parking lot . If the comments I read are indicative of the expectations of this match, apparently they were not met in the sense a final should have better football on display. This blaming the referee because they cannot score or put a shot on target is ridiculous. Once again the appeals for non existent fouls or manufactured sellable ones are a blight on the game. Instead of a championship battle of two lions we got two chihuahuas nipping at each other in frustration. 13 yellows, lots of up air muggings, with flailing arms and clashing heads. I was ok with no PK for the non handling & that non call poke was truly brilliant. It is so nice when the players miss so many opportunities and have the audacity to blame the referee!

There are HUGE differences in comparative biases from real time decisions under match play pressure compared to armchair evaluations of stop, start, rewind, freeze play, multiple angle reviews .

I should point out at the elite level aside from the ARs and 4th input to assist the referee the VAR system is also used to correct a serious error or obvious mistake .

While the focus on getting the call correct is indeed a priority sometimes what we think we see was not what he sees! As a human being a referee can certainly misread or have different opinion on a certain matter but we agree to disagree and move on . As to the result at match end , the CR is the final arbitrator of justice ,after weighing all the neutral evidence at their disposal . Only a decision where the LOTG are NOT correct for the restart awarded would there be a protestable set of circumstances

I offer this older video from my mentor and one of the finest referees I have ever witnessed as proof that things might not be as clear as you think. Watch it and truly listen, not only is it spiritual and factual the tactical application of such things like advantage and onfield decision making is utterly brilliant!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Eric,
If the incident in question is the potential handball offence by a Sevilla player that was not called as a penalty by the referee then I think it can can be explained by reference to the relevant clauses in the law. The only two categories that might be applicable here are deliberate handball or handball when the player has made their body unnaturally bigger.

For me, it seems clear that the player has the arm close to their body and was if anything, trying to move their hand away from the ball. Both factors seen to negate the idea of a deliberate handling offence.

As to the player having made their body unnaturally bigger, the law says that this occurs "when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation." For me, the player's arm position was natural and justifiable in the situation so (again in my opinion) the referee's decision was well within the bounds of the law.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34996
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

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 free 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. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>