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Question Number: 35351

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/10/2024

RE: Adult

DEMETRIOS PROTOPAPAS of Limassol, Limassol Cyprus asks...

Hello there,my name is Demetris from limassol CYPRUS.I am a little confused regarding the referee decision to give a penalty after VAR intervention. Match reference AEK v Apollon for the Cyprus league played on Sunday Feb10, video reference ln your opinion was it a penalty or Offside? What is the priority of the events?Thank you very much

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Demetrios
Thanks for the question.
Let me take the easy part first. There is no offside here as while the Yellow forward may well be in an offside position in front of goal he did not interfere with the Blue player that handled the ball in that players attempt to stop the cross. VAR would have checked the position of the Yellow player that crossed the ball and deemed that not to be offside. That player looks clearly onside before making the cross.
Law 11 states that it is not an offence to be in an offside position and that a player has to either interfere with play by touching the ball or interfere with an opponent by committing one of the 4 conditions outlined in the law.
As the Blue defender was on his own trying to stop the cross there could not be any interfering with that Blue opponent to make a possible offside here.
Preventing the ball going to a player in an offside position who is a distance away does not constitute interfering with an opponent.
So no possible offside here by the attacking player in front of goal as the handling offence happened first which is what was called. WITHOUT the handling I believe offside might have been called on the Blue player in the middle.

As to the handling the video is somewhat grainy yet it does look like the ball came up off the arm of the Blue defender in his attempt to stop the cross as he slides in.
The question was whether the Blue defender made himself bigger in his attempt to stop the ball with the ball coming off his arm in his slide action.
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.
If the arm was under the player to break his fall that might be deemed justifiable for that situation. The fact that it was above his body ran the risk of the arm being hit by the ball which looked like what in fact happened.
So the VAR official thought it was a deliberate handling situation which is why the referee was asked to review the footage which probably may have been higher definition and maybe with other angles shown.

So it is as always the great handling debate. As the Law states players takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball when away from the body and making themselves bigger in situations not justifiable by that body movement which results in that being penalised for handling which is what happened.

If it does not hit an arm the question does not arise. When it hits an outstretched arm the question does arise and it is assessed under the non deliberate unnatural position of the arm criteria. In those situations only one opinion matters which is the referee on the day taking into account IFAB advice and the handball criteria.
In many ways it is the consequence of VAR that these type of situations are picked up. You will note that in an earlier ball off the arm by a Blue defender close to the penalty area was not penalised as that player had his arms tucked in and turning away from the shot. That tells me that the criteria was being considered correctly.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Demetrios,
I must be getting old, my first thought it was the blue defender in the middle of the goal beside the yellow attacker who missed the header . In my opinion, at first I believed that was the VAR review incident but in retrospect I might have it wrong.

I will say it did initially appear to me the yellow player extended an arm across the blue defender to keep him from passing him and from an AR perspective I personally might have felt the yellow PIOP did in fact affect the blue player. Yet that might be hidden in the timing of the run and pass as the position is ONLY determined when the ball comes in off the foot of the yellow team mate! The VAR has the ability to freeze frame, with multi angle and back view so we do not see what he might have seen.

If the blue defender had simply stood still and not rushed in to challenge ,based on my first impression of whether yellow was already in an offside position position an INDFK Out could have been the result.

WE do NOT worry WHY or what a defender is thinking or TRIES to do. The defenders' choice to mark the yellow player, if he was offside position, is an entirely separate issue and of no consequence to the offside decision. We ONLY judge the actions of the attackers and again remind it is NOT an offence for the opposition to be in an offside position.

The blue player extended the arms to resemble a T as he dived forward so it is not improbable to think the ARMS are AWAY from the body and any contact of the ball off his arm is likely seen as a deliberate action.

As pointed out the yellow player, who, just based on a quick look, did appear to be offside positioned and if so, the then determination required is, did he AFFECT the play of the blue player by interfering with the opponent?

To award the PK, it seems obvious that interfering with the opponent was NOT the decision they (officials) arrived at. Blue did what he did & VAR would most definitely check if the yellow player, a PIOP or not, had an effect on the actions taken. If so there was interference an INDFK could be called. Given it was not, yet I thought it was, I can place greater credit to the 2nd option.

It was my colleague who pointed out that the T shaped defender was not the actual culprit but rather the sliding defender in between going to ground trying to block the cross.

It sort of appears the ball MAY have clipped the arm and shot up a wee bit.
Now going to ground is a last ditch attempt by a beaten defender and frankly any trailing arm or waving it about is more than likely to be seen as making oneself bigger rather than a controllable deliberate action.

Being attached to the body the arm is always going to be there .
Question was was it out and away ?
To me it looked rather tucked and in line but I slowed it down to .25 speed and it was still too blurry for me to be sure. Yet if the VAR review had a cleaner look perhaps that arm was in fact used to push the ball up and away. If the officials chose to see that as a deliberate handling then nothing about offside is relevant just an opinion on a fact of play from our armchairs we can not be at all sure!

I can say this in real time I did not see it as a PK but rather leaned offside yet on the pitch at what ever angle of view one might have who is to say we see it diffrent?
I think the fact blue won the game the decision rests easier in their minds lol

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