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Question Number: 31348

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/14/2017

RE: Competitive Adult

Jack of Sydney, NSW Australia asks...

In a recent collection of match incidents presented by Football Federation Australia (FFA), they included the following:

At 1:19, the ball makes contact with Dimi Petratos' arm, before his team (Brisbane Roar) go on to score. In the presentation, FFA claimed that the correct decision is deliberate handling, because that is the 'expectation' (I don't know what this means - players and spectators expect decisions contraty to the Laws all the time) and the arm was in an 'unnatural position' (in spite of this phrase not appearing in the Laws of the Game). The on-field decision was no offence.

I'm struggling to see how this is deliberate handling. Petratos pulls his arm away from his body for both balance and to avoid striking the ball with his arm on the initial touch with his chest. An unfortunate bounce then results in the ball striking his arm before he has time to move his arm out of the way.

While his arm is not against his body, the Laws of the Game state that 'the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an infringement' - that is, the position of the arm alone is not enough to determine whether the handling is deliberate.

Following the other relevant criteria in Law 12, it seems that this is

* an unexpected ball (i.e. he has no time to get the arm out of the way),

* the hand does not move towards the ball, and

* the arm is in that position for balance and to avoid the ball on the initial touch - not to deliberately make himself bigger in order to increase the probability of the ball rebounding or otherwise being played into it.

Given all of this I tend to agree with the on-field referee at the time to rule that there was no offence committed. Even without going through all of the the criteria in Law 12, my gut instinct is 'not deliberate'.

What is your decision and how do you arrive at it?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jack,
I think you have presented a very good analysis of the situation and I agree with your conclusion. I would arrive at this decision using the same reasoning that you do and I am actually struggling slightly to understand why the FFA have seen it differently. It is (as you say) not a good reason to give a decision based on an expectation of what should be given, especially when this expectation is at odds with the law.

Even though I don't think the 'expectation' does particularly matter, it seems as if they're not even right in saying that this is what would be expected - at least going by the players' and commentators' reactions. I noticed that there was no more than a half-hearted appeal by only one defender and the commentators are of the opinion (correct, IMHO) that it was unintentional and that the ball strikes the hand, rather than the other way round.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jack,
I concur with your evaluation and my colleague Ref Grove disapproval. The narrow view of expectations stems from the unwillingness of those within the association to disassociate an advantage with a non foul of a simple ball and arm contact. The deliberate action of trying to chest the ball fairly is CLEAR as is the fact he in no way tried to deliberately use the arm to control the unusual rebound off the chest off the ground. To award a PK against a defender or a DFK against an attacker is not what the LOTG intended in my opinion. I would be very interested if this interpretive action undertaken by the Football Federation Australia is supported by the IFAB and FIFA? I have asked a colleague to examine this video and see if those on the committee are thinking it is or is not a valid interpretation. For my sake I certainly hope it is not! I would not award a free kick under my current understanding of the game!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jack
I looked at the video and first run through I could not see what was being questioned. Only a re run and a re read of your question that I saw what was under discussion.
I suspect these instructional clips are prepared by perhaps a small panel under the direction of a former senior referee. That panel can have a very narrow opinion of what constitutes deliberate in a handling sense.
From my viewing of it is that the ball bounces up hitting the players arm which was in that position before the bounce. The arms were in a natural position so in no way could this been seen as a deliberate action by the attacker to control the ball.
It shows just how difficult the DHB call has become when it is being suggested that this is deliberate handling by some. It also points to the need for IFAB to come out with a much clearer position on handling and a position that is easily understood and uniformly applied.

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