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Question Number: 31260

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/15/2017

RE: Under 19

Jacob Lee-Hart of Wallasey, Merseyside United Kingdom asks...

Hi, I was watching the Arsenal - Hull game recently, and was arguing with my friends about the Alexis Sanchez goal. So basically my question is, 'can you score a goal with your hand?'.

The ball bounced up quickly, and hit Sanchez on the hand before going into the net. The important point in my opinion is that it didn't fit the definition of handball... If a defender did something similar to *stop* a goal, it wouldn't have been a handball... Yet all the pundits say that it was a clear handball.

So should it have been given? And if not, where in the rules does it say that you can't score a goal with your hand, even if it doesn't fit the definition of handball?

Thanks in advance

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jacob
For handling to be called as a foul it must be deliberate. The referee crew here opined that the Sanchez action was not a deliberate attempt to handle the ball yet rather the ball bouncing up unexpectedly hitting him on the arm. As such when there is NO offence by the scoring team so the goal is awarded. If a defender stopped the ball in a similar manner with no deliberate action it would also be play on. The other potential was that it was not seen by the referees. Certainly Referee Mark Clattenburg spoke to his assistant and either they saw it as not deliberate or did not see it.
IFAB the laws body has indicated that it will try to provide better clarity and advice on handling. I would say that 9 out of 10 times the ball makes contact with an opponents arm it is not deliberate and should not be called. That requires strong refereeing as the *easy* decision is to call handling when the bell hits an arm
Now I have looked at this a few times. Sanchez goes in and raises his arm as part his action to play the ball. It does not look like he raised his arm away from his body to play the ball as it was in that position before the ball bounced up. Now some will argue that a raised arm/s away from the body should have consequences. Personally I do not think Sanchez deliberately used his hand to play the ball nor did he place his arm deliberately in that position to assist in playing the ball.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Jacob,
Thanks for your question. Certainly a controversial incident!
The law states that 'deliberately handles the ball' (DHB) is a direct free kick offence. The laws do not state that you cannot score a goal from your hand - but naturally you cannot score a goal after committing a foul.
So what that leaves, is that it would only be a problem if the foul of DHB has been committed.

The outcome is not relevant. Many players - and unfortunately, some referees - believe that accidental handling that benefits that player's team is a foul. Not so. If it is not DHB, then gaining a benefit doesn't change that.

I once had a scenario where an attacker had his arms right down by his side. Ball bounced around the Penalty Area, then struck his arm from behind him. Ball fell to his feet, he turned and scored. But his arms were in a natural position and he had no idea where the ball was - so no foul. The fact that it fell to his feet didn't matter. The same would also go for stopping a goal.

So, the referee needs to determine if the handling was deliberate or accidental. For clarity, 'deliberate' is probably closer to 'could he reasonably have been expected to not handle the ball?'. Position of the arm and movement to the ball are 2 of several factors to be considered. While the arm was raised, wasn't the arm raised in a manner that's perfectly natural given the type of lunge? While having raised arms while playing the ball is often controversial - some would say 'that's how you go in to this type of challenge' and others will say 'no, there's another way to have the arms he should be using', I think the arm use here is perfectly normal and expected for this type of lunge and he wouldn't be expected to have his arms anywhere else. That, along with having no time to react from the odd bounce and no movement of the arm towards the ball suggests it's accidental for me, so a legitimate goal.

Had it been a defender stopping the goal my decision would be the same.

Of course, if one was to argue that his arms did not need to be that high for the lunge, and therefore it's a foul, then that would be a reasonable position. I would disagree, but that part is a judgement call. But the fact that a goal was scored is actually irrelevant to the decision.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jacob,
The technical answer to your question, ''can you score a goal with your hand?'' is yes, although I would provably avoid phrasing like that as it leans a little towards a description of a deliberate attempt to score a goal by using your hand which of course, would not be allowable. I think a better way to phrase it for the avoidance of any doubt, might be, ''Can a goal be scored when the last touch was an accidental deflection off an attacker's hand or arm?''

Because if the touch off the attacker's hand was not deliberate, there is no offence and the fact that the ball then ends up in the net makes no difference to that fact.

In discussions on handball, there is often talk of the hands being in a natural or unnatural position. I think that this is possibly unhelpful in a way because it may distract us somewhat from the core question of whether the handling was deliberate or not. Especially when it is not clear what constitutes a natural or unnatural position in the first place, the referee's thought processes can start concentrating on that, to the exclusion of other factors.

I would prefer to consider it in terms that remain closer to the actual law wording and ask something like, ''Are the player's hands/arms in the position they are in because the player has moved them there as a deliberate act to make contact with the ball?'' For me the focus should always remain fully on the question of deliberateness and if you reduce it to the mere question of natural/unnatural position you may start to lose sight of that.

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