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Question Number: 29654

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/1/2015

RE: Youth to adult, comp and rec.

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

This question is a follow up to question 29647

It's interesting to see the panel viewing this situation in different ways: from Richard's 'keep playing' to Joe's seeing the protection as a deliberate act -- thus deliberate handling.

I suspect I'm known by some as 'the ref who NEVER calls hand ball' as I ignore lots of hand contact, especially in close quarters. It is most often ball-to-hand; the player never had a chance to reach for the ball or to pull their arm out of the way.

Anyone can see hand/arm contact. When opponents see it, they usually appeal for a hand ball -- and I ignore most of their pleas. It works both ways, as I call it that way for both teams. No way you're going to get a sweet free kick or PK just because you nailed a defender on the hand or arm.

There's black and white -- but also the grey area in between, which challenges our interpretation.

In the situation Zak described, the attacker did everything to make his body small. He didn't come in with arms outstretched. He used his speed to create a problem for the keeper, who panicked and kicked it straight back at him. Good goal every time, I say.

On the other hand, deliberate handling is hard to hide, except for the crafty players. Shooting out a hand to stop the ball, jockeying with arms out wide or leaving your hand/arm in a place where a slow or distant ball will hit it are the ones that are clearly deliberate.

I'm also in favour of allowing protection of the privates and face, when facing a strong blast from a short distance. The speed and distance I'll allow varies with the age and skill level. The player has to be frugal with their coverage, though. One woman I called for a PK put her elbows up in front of her face, leaving the hands about a foot higher -- where they contacted the ball and stopped a cross into the box.

Most fouls and infringements in the Laws have no mention of 'deliberate' in their description. Handling the ball clearly does, meaning it needs to be considered with a different standard.

Your thoughts?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Barry,
you sound as if we have similar views!

Still, we need to remember that a deliberate act has nothing to do with what a player might have intentionally tried to do.
Players may not be trying to intentionally play the ball with their hands but reflexes and reactions override their intentions, a ball that is in proximity to the hands or arms often results in a pushing away instead of a pulling away.

Lets look at offside interpretation to gain some clarity into a referee deciding WHAT IS THE PLAYER DOING? To reset offside the opposition must deliberately play the ball. If the ball deflects or is redirected off their body, feet, whatever, no reset. In essence deliberate handing has similar thinking!
DOES the ball impact the player or is the player impacting the ball? .

A number of accidental deliberate handlings are feasible based on the criteria a referee uses to ascertain IF the ball is being directed/controlled by use of the hands even if the INTENT by the player was say to chest it or head it down and an gust of wind or a weird bounce changed the flight of the ball.

What a player does in preparation for a challenge, if the arms are already placed to ward of a possible oncoming clearance this is no different than a defender standing in a wall with the arms raised above their head or linking arms to make a wall wider . These actions are deliberate and designed to make it difficult for a loose ball to get by . My colleague Ref McHugh was pointing out that preraised arms going into a challenge , could constitute a deliberateness of intention . The difficulty is raising the arms. preparing to ward off the ball if it comes at you while challenging is a deliberate act as often as it is an instinctive reaction to an incoming ball you are unprepared for. It should be note there are higher expectations to make less protective movements as skill and level of play increases

I try to encourage referees not to confuse intentionally with deliberately as we do not read minds.

We judge the actions!

A player deliberately tries to throw themselves on top of the ball say in the penalty area to shield it and accidentally has that ball roll off or along his arm that will be a foul to 99.9% of those watching ! Yet it a player falls on top of the ball while challenging an opponent and accidentally has that ball roll off or along his arm that will be a foul in at least 50% of those watching if that fall because the auspices of the phrase' deliberate challenge'

I had an incident in which a ball was under the chest of a player who had taken a tumble and had his arms on either side as he immediately tried to raise himself up while shielding the ball. An opponent reached a foot in and flicked the ball against his arm as he tried to roll it out. The SCREAMS for the foul were deafening lol The player on the ground had done nothing but try and get up thus was not PIADM by covering the ball openly and the opponent has reasonably tried to play it without endangering the safety of the downed player so he was not guilty of PIADM. Nothing there play!

In the opposite spectrum I had a defender leap high into the air arms raised above his shoulders and out wide with his eyes totally closed. turned his back inside his own goal area , the ball off the arm = PK! The exact same with an attacker = DFK out. Both will claim it was an accident, they did not see and the arms were raised because they jumped. This DELIBERATE action was designed to intercept a possible cross and arms flung out create movement of the opponents to not be in the way. The hands are part of the equation, they go where the body goes

I like your thinking as a referee, it is your match, your decision and your reputation!
Your being consistent helps both teams!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
Deliberate handling is the most difficult call that a referee will make in a game. In the Womens World Cup I saw countless handling calls that in my opinion were not deliberate yet in the opinion of the referee on the day they were. The point I made was that a player attempting to charge down a ball and he raises his arms for protection has made a deliberate action to assist him in making the play. The player has to take the consequences of such raised arm actions

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