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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35050

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 8/2/2023

RE: Varsity High School

Dave Frankson of Oregon, WI USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 33156

It appears that in regard to handling offences, the language regarding the ball coming off the body of the player or another player in close proximity appears to have been removed from the LOTG. Does this change your advice, and if so, how does it change the advice that was given if the same game scenario occurred now versus then.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Dave
Thanks for the question.
Yes the advice wording has been changed in the FIFA Laws of the Game where it amends previous advice including the part you mention.

In many ways the Law itself has not changed other than the handling that results in an immediate goal so it is still only an offence to deliberately touch the ball with a hand or an arm or to make oneself unnaturally bigger in that handling situation. So all the previous advice is now included in the wording and I quote “” 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 it is still a judgement call as it always has been for the referee to make based on the circumstances that presents.
So in the situation you mention if it was not called previously as handling under the previous advice it should not be called now.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

Hi Dave,

I notice you are a high school referee.

Handling is defined in the NFHS Rules Book, Rule 18-1-v on Page 82 as follows: Deliberately playing the ball with one's hand or arm. The hand or arm must move toward the ball or the hand or arm must be carried in an unnatural position before an infraction of the rule can be charged.

However, 12.3.1 Situations A and C on page 65 of the NFHS Rules Book do allow for reflex action handling to protect the head, face, groin and chest.

I hope this helps. I also hope you have a great fall boys soccer season and get to officiate in state tournament in Milwaukee in November.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Dave
as noted the high school rules has an addendum not found in the FIFA LOTG about reflex handling,,, which, in my opinion, is somewhat age orientated.

The fact is the FIFA LOTG often try hard to explain all aspects that one MIGHT consider and try to rule out the potential of error as best they can. The constant adjustments and wording changes often are directed to the disparity of thoughts created by trying to explain what always was in the opinion of the referee to determine the deliberateness of an action where the thought or intent was not actually there!

The concept of the non useable body parts being in unnatural positions creates a conundrum at times simply because the player performing a challenge may have no intent to handle the ball but their reaction creates movement that can be interpreted as making oneself bigger that may in fact simply be stabilizing of the body. Then you get a redirected ball from one source, careening of that body part which then forces a judgement of yes the arm moved deliberately into the space OR the ball fell onto or into the arm by accident. In such cases Your Match Your Decision Your Reputation is now under review!

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