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Question Number: 35116

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/26/2023

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

Hi all,

I was in a Facebook discussion about a video clip of a handball call and when one poster mention it being "ball-to-hand," another poster claimed that is no longer a consideration. Who has it right?

While we're on the topic: would it be legitimate to ignore a handball where the shot was clearly off-target and the ball was heading out of bounds. Of course, the contact would be counted for corner kick/ goal kick purposes.

Thanks for your efforts in answering these questions.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry.
Good to hear from you.
While the term *ball to hand* is probably now frowned on which includes recent changes including handling in a goal situation, it is nonetheless still a factor with probably other terminology and considerations used.
Ball to hand suggests that perhaps where the ball hits a players hand in any situation that in someways that is okay. We know that is not the case.
So when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation and 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 I believe that when referees talk about ball to hand they generally mean that a player has their hand in a natural position and the ball accidentally hits the hand / arm through a bounce or from a play from short range. If the player were to have their arm above the head or well away from the body it could still be ball to hand yet a very high risk of being called as deliberate handling.

So for that reason alone it is not a good term to use yet the principle is still pertinent in that a ball to hand on a bad bounce or a shot that hits a player from close range on the arm in natural positions should not be called.
The opposite of that is hand to ball which is very rare and not seen all that often unless of course a goal is scored. I watch countless games and rarely do I see players deliberately move the ball with a hand.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Barry,
given the political winds of football the handling evolution of calls has given way to most any ball to hand contact winds up being called as a DFK even if the player has NOT deliberately tried to do so. The fact that almost ANY contact by an attacker where ball and hand come into contact in around the PA area generally is an DFK out for the defenders. As you know you can not score or gain the advantage to score from such a non deliberate action due to perceptions of unfairness. A referee has almost no discretion and the game itself seems to want these calls made or at least so often expects them to the degree where a referee might be intimidated not to call them. As explained the ball to hand is still useful in situations that CLEARLY have no need to make up a call EXCEPT of course the attacker CAN NOT benefit for a direct or immediate goal scoring opportunity! The fact that this weird perception of unnatural positions to regain balance are often misdiagnosed, so too is the defenders abilities to defend without putting their hands in behind their backs. I might add that sliding tackles dragging the arms away and up past the head are as every bit as arms raised in a jumping sequence as being away from the body. This is decidedly different than using the arms to get up off the ground after you fall or cushion a fall. . Referee have to realize the arms are attached and can not be hidden from incidental contact even if this seems to be discarded with, in my personal and not at all humble opinion horrible game changing PKs awarded .

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