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Question Number: 35473

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/25/2024

Larry of Danville, California United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 35466

I wish I could get as fast and as thoughtful of a response from people who are being paid to do their job. You guys are great. However, I have a couple of follow up comments.

Jason, after a search of the Laws from the last several years I only found the term “non-deliberate” mentioned in the 2019-2020 laws, in conjunction with accidental handling being an infraction when a goal is scored. Meaning non-deliberate was the same as accidental. Did I miss something? And personally, I think the Law writers have been the ones “overthinking” handling, not me. They continually modify the wording and tweak the Laws to describe handling, while I have always thought it was judgmental but still pretty straight forward, by simply asking if the ball and hand contact were deliberate.
1. Did the player deliberately move their hand toward the ball?
2. Did the slide tackler deliberately raise their hand away from their body?
3. Did a player deliberately extend their hand outward in a way that was not justified by their movement?
4. Did a player waiting for a long ball deliberately protect their face/chest instead of playing the ball properly, as opposed to a reflexive action?

So for me, the thought that there are two kinds of handling offenses, deliberate and non-deliberate, is unnecessarily confusing. Have I been calling handballs improperly?

If I understand your general positions and interpretation of upcoming Law, my first example is the only time there is a deliberate handball, and that the other examples are non-deliberate infractions. However, I have a very hard time describing a stationary player who sticks their hand over their head, or outstretched horizontally away from their body, as doing anything but performing a deliberate act. If you agree those extreme cases are deliberate, as Richard states he does, now we must decide at what point it becomes non-deliberate, but still handling. Also, does it ever get to the point where it is so non-deliberate that it becomes accidental? ??

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Larry ,
thanks for the kind words. You are 100% spot on that those individuals here that respond, do it for nothing other than the love of the game! My personal benefit in responding to the myriad of questions helps me stay current because we are actually kept abreast of the real issues others encounter when the ROCs, IFAB, FIFA continually tweak the LOTG in how it alters perception and the way the game is played. The fair play philosophy is grounded in principles of integrity, fairness and respect, however the desire for this creation of a more ethical sport system is often a word salad of principles rather than a concrete definition.
Every incident, while commonalties prevail, must be judged on its own merit!

There will always be deliberate actions undertaken to PLAY the ball or challenge for possession that will have unintended consequences. Your back peddling trying to defend when bumped by another player destroys your balance or you simply click your own heel and stumble, a shift in the wind or a swerving kick and suddenly the ball flight changes or becomes erratic. Your sight is blocked and there is so little time to react. So in theory what you deliberately intended to do results in unintended consequences that are in fact accidental in outcome but judged as a deliberate response.

Set yourself in a wall at a free kick as a player you can put one hand on forehead to protect the face or across the chest or protect the groin and as long as you keep them in place, there is NO way to find fault.

Contrary to no fault, if you link the arms as chicken wings with your team mate to widen the wall or you place them high over your head to force the free kick to go higher, both are examples of artificially becoming a bigger target to block the ball. The players are not prevented from doing so, they are not moving the arm towards the ball. However, there are consequences should the ball strike the arm/hand because intentionally they are defiantly occupying the space the ball could travel though if those limbs were not there!

FIFA and IFAB were aware that goals are scored by players who cheat. Incidents like Thierry Henry antics on November 18, 2009, France defeated the Republic of Ireland 2-1 on aggregate to qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals! A rehash of the Maradona Hand of God goal in 1986 against England. Incidents like these force changes to the LOTG, often instituted because of the enormous controversy over years of fallout creating football matches where – somehow – the game became tainted.

New and improved seeking to faith and justice, creating a faster more entertaining money making enterprise. Although VAR now prevents the UNSEEN aspect of handling from not being part of the outcome, at grassroots we still need to SEE the contact. We cannot rely on the integrity of the player with the ball off the arm scoring, unlike a truly great steward of the game during the Napoli - Lazio 2012 match Miroslav Klose scored a goal with his hand and then tells the referee who was going to award him the goal to disallow it, back long before this new version of the law came to be!

This ridiculous shift in making any Ball/Hand or Hand/Ball contact if a direct goal or an immediate goal resulted from the contact into a DFK foul was not particularly well thought out! It goes against EVERYTHING a foul is, even understanding the reasoning for change. I again reiterate my obstinate opinion that a DB to the keeper is a superior restart for this ONE only exception where either a completely innocent no foul at all occurred to a completely cheating SOB who should be cautioned.

I tend to agree with most of your assessment! I look at handling in only one of two ways. Was it a foul or not a foul? Who cares if it was on purpose or a mistake, accidental or deliberate, intended or unintended. The difficulty in trying to discern intent from a mistake that was a deliberate action into an accidental result we need not punish is that we are NOT mind readers, hence the LOTG decided to judge the ACTIONS! The thought that there are two kinds of handling offenses, deliberate and non-deliberate, is indeed unnecessarily confusing. There is only foul or no foul! I again remind you the word "RISK" is used when players try to position themselves to respond to the incoming ball.

Hand to ball = CLEAR FOUL
The reality of a clear foul is we can generally judge the intent of the player who appears to be obviously attempting to breakup the attack or prevent a shot at goal. Such an action is likely cardable as a yellow caution USB or a red send off DOGSO
Notable clear handling DFK/ PK examples look at the repulsive Luis Suarez AKA the 'cannibal' Mr. Bite Man, for his toothy antics crushed Ghana's 2010 World Cup hopes with a very deliberate intentional handball.

Then the polar opposite was the hapless Croatian defender who gets called for a PK during a corner kick because he was unsighted, the attacking opponent had jumped up in front of him attempting to head but miss judged the ball flight which sailed on by, falling directly into the defender's arm, which was by his side, about 6 inches away from his body as he tried to jerk it back, utterly ridiculous PK for a completely benign contact

So when and how does a referee using his LAW 5 discretionary powers ITOOTR determine if a player RISKED too much?
1. Did the player deliberately move their hand toward the ball?
You and I are in sync here, with a possible youth excuse to over reacting!

2. Did the slide tackler deliberately raise their hand away from their body?
Slide tackling is a beaten defender performing a deliberate RISKY tackle. Generally the body is launched as a missile and with very little control . If the body has no control it is doubtful the arms do actions independently, they are there for the ride so to speak and the player is accountable for taking that risk. Players need to stay on their feet to achieve LESS risk.

3. Did a player deliberately extend their hand outward in a way that was not justified by their movement?
This is the one EVERYONE will really be at odds as to the reasons the arms are where they are? Be it for balance, for turning, to initiate a jump. I find failure to avoid contact as they pull away trying to get out of the way then decide if they were just standing there trying to force an opponent to shoot wide or go around will ALWAYS be a discretionary call based on my gut, the timing, the ball flight, the speed, and any variables that might affect why it went as it did such as obstructed view, obstructed movement, visibility /weather, possible offside interference interventions.

4. Did a player waiting for a long ball deliberately protect their face/chest instead of playing the ball properly, as opposed to a reflexive action?
At the adult level most likely an easy decision. It COULD be a fear reaction and a warding type push away particular at youth, an instinctive block to say protect the mid area , chest for the ladies, or face. Lacking the skill set to be able to use a technique other than just duck out of the way. I see the body turn where they swivel slightly to take the ball side arm to be preferable to crossed arms out in front rebounding the ball almost as if it was was headed with pace.

You ask, does it ever get to the point where it is so non-deliberate that it becomes accidental? Think where you deliberately play the ball and perhaps you misjudge it, deflecting off your miskick or attempt to control. The ball then rolls or bounces up into your spread arms? No way is this intentional and look at the result? Say your nearest opponent is 20 plus yards away. We should give the opposition a PK or DFK for a great scoring opportunity when they did nothing to deserve it? Yet it can turn intentional, in the ball could rolls up and off the body along the arm but you instinctively bat it down rather than try to pull away. Bad decisions generally have bad consequences! But punishing a mistake with a PK, unless it is a blatant one in these cases, is also a bad decision by referee, who is not really grasping there was no foul here, just some bad luck.

As to the question whether you imagine if you are calling these fouls incorrectly . I think you have good grasp as to foul versus fair, my suggestion concentrate on that. Your Match Your Decision Your Reputation

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Larry
In the case of accidental handball that results in a goal was deemed a non deliberate handball which has to be called as handling punished by a direct free kick. That is the reference connection in the 2019 Laws.

So accidental and non deliberate are two different concepts and terms. Accidental in regular play would not be called as handling whereas in an attacking goal situation accidental handling must be called as handling deemed non deliberate punished by a direct free kick.

I agree the use of non deliberate can be confusing certainly for those that are not up to speed with the laws.

So your questions to help interpret handling are all valid. The difficulty is judging the answers.
On a slide tackle a player will more than likely place an arm on the ground to break the fall which is a natural reaction and position. The challenge is interpreting what happens next and is the player using the arm to drag / stop the ball after the initial movement. The advice was part of the Laws in 2020 yet removed the following year and replaced with what we have now.

So in many ways handling with the exception of the goal scoring handling call has not changed. Referees must still opine whether it is deliberate or non deliberate which are called as an offence or accidental handling which is not an offence.
The easy one is deliberate which happens rarely whereas most calls that are penalised are in the Not Deliberate category of making the body bigger most likely having the arm away from the body. Therein the ball contacting the arm when maybe the ball might be avoided is a subjective judgement call.

You are correct that IFAB has been overthinking handling yet it is response to the fact that handling is probably the most difficult call a referee has to make that is open to interpretation.
I watch a lot of debates on referee decision making and invariably the vast majority are on handling calls that can go either way. A straw poll will be divided with some saying yes while others no. It is the penalty calls or not that cause the debates depending on perhaps what side you support or as a neutral your attitude to handling.
I see varying degrees of refereeing opinion in the English Premier League with some referees extremely slow to call a non deliberate penalty while others will easily call it. VAR on the non deliberate ones rarely intervene as they know it can go either way and they dont like asking referees to look at it as it suggests that they believe it should be a penalty whereas the referee has not.

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