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Question Number: 31308

High School 3/2/2017

RE: Competive High School

Lionel Heinold of Ephrata, Washington USA asks...

A defender is just inside of the goal area and to the left of the goal with the keeper behind. I am to the left just inside the penalty area with an unobstructed view. A shot is taken from about 30 yards. The defender has their arms at their side. The ball, upper arm and body make contact. The defender turn their body, arm and shoulder away from the goal causing the ball to go wide and over the goal line. Is this handling the ball?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Lionel
This does not read like deliberate handling to me. The fact that the ball has made contact with the body suggests that there is sufficient doubt to know whether the arm was used to play the ball. In these instances I would not go with handling.
If the ball made contact with the arm only or mainly the arm then that is handling as the player had made himself bigger by using his arm only to play the ball.
Have a look at this video.
Clear deliberate handling and a penalty kick plus a red card.
Here is another one
Is it player by the arm or chest or both?

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Lionel,

It's a bit difficult to say - I could still be picturing something different to what has happened.

Position of the arms is only part of the picture - something else that comes to mind is the opportunity to react. Even if the arms are by the side, if the defender has had ample time to react to move the arms out of the way, then they have an obligation to do so. That's why a shot from 5 yards away is looked at differently to a shot from 30 yards away.

Having the arms by the side can still have the impact or widening the body - and it sounds like the player has turned their body and made use of the arm to control the ball.

As you say, it strikes the body and the upper arm - in that case, are you certain, beyond a doubt it struck the arm? You want to give the defender any benefit of the doubt here. Did it strike the arm at the same time as the upper body, it did it deflect off the chest into the arm?

If the latter, it would be more likely to be accidental. If the former, it would sound to me like a misjudged play and using the arm to control the ball.

So to me it sounds like a likely foul. I doubt that myself and Ref McHugh would judge the same incident significantly differently - I expect we're both viewing a different variation on your description.

Of course, if you give a foul here and it's on target for the goal with only one other defender to beat, then you're looking at a red card for Denying and Obvious Goalscoring Opportunity.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Lionel,
I think that this is another YHTBT moment. I can see both sides of the argument. As always with potential handling offences, the referee needs to decide if this was truly ''a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm.''

In the description you give, one of the main considerations that sounds significant to me is ''the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball).''

If the ball was struck from 30 yards away, it can hardly be described as an unexpected ball. Based on that, it seems possible that the player had time to make sure the ball did not strike the arm.

On the other hand, you say it struck both upper body and arm together so that makes it sound possible that the player was attempting to chest the ball but accidentally misjudged it.

In the end, it comes down to your opinion - did the player deliberately make use of the arm in order to contact the ball, or not?

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Lionel.
all my colleague have chimed in on the ITOOTR aspect of any deliberate handling call.
I hold a fairly harsh view that far too many non handling events are given the DFK status because of HOW it looks rather than WHAT it was! To verbally describe an event conjures up a variety of what if situations based on similar circumstances with a degree of twist. To make a prima facia case the official simply has to be convinced it WAS thus whistle, free kick or it was not , thus no whistle, play continues. as a judgement decision and as a fact of play there is no protesting such a decision be it I prefer to be sure rather than guess if I do whistle. Unless I am completely sure it WAS deliberate I keep the whistle in the pocket. I apply the same thought process to offside unless I am completely sure there was an offside, there is NO offside! I do not lean to probability that it might be or it looks bad. I see what I see and make a decision yes or no! Not to react to screams of REF or cries of' Hand Ball!' l takes some focus!

If player has direct line of sight on a ball from thirty yards it is suspicious to think that ball will contact the arm unless hit with speed and a wicked curve. A redirect or blocked line of sight can be a factor but the front part of the shoulder is not handling as it I not considered as part of the arm itself! It is the use of the bicep portion that is not permitted. Arms in on the body rolled forward onto the chest or belly or wrapped around the back are not used to play the ball given said ball is hit towards the body. Neither is a sideways turn where the ball impacts the outside of a tucked arm that would have struck the player in the high chest area anyway. AS long as the arm is not punched out warding the ball away. Even then at the wee one level if for protection we let it slide!
One good way to give you a picture of what portion of the shoulder is legal, make a muscle pose with one arm, then slide the opposing hand across the face of that shoulder until they tuck their fingers into the crease under the arm. I have seen body builders with a greater chest breadth on that portion of the chest.. I will say this the greater the skill player have the more creative they are at masking the close decisions and will play through a deliberate nudge as if WHAT? Who me?


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