Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 31374

High School 3/20/2017

RE: Youth to adult, comp and rec.

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

This question is a follow up to question 31359

I am glad that I don't have to ref under the rules for U.S. high school soccer. I have real trouble with a deliberate handling call for a player who covers their privates or their face just as a hard blast is directed their way from a short distance.

The intent is to protect, not to play the ball. As a defender, I stopped a rocket of a shot with the side of my head. At some point in the delivery, I turned my head and covered my ear with my hand.

The impact knocked me onto the ground and my ear was ringing, despite the slight protection my hand offered.

The ref (correctly, I say) made no call, though he did wonder if I was okay. I wasn't really but said I was.

The play probably stopped a goal, so in U.S. high school, I'm thinking I would have been red carded for DOGSO.

The problem I have with that is: if my hand hadn't been there, my head still would have stopped the shot, likewise if I had moved my hand to cover my privates just before a ball hit me there. What are your thoughts on such a play, in the PA, in U.S. high school or regular FIFA play?

Thanks, as always.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Barry ,
If your hand was going up to protect your ear then it was not pushing away the ball so even under the strictest of interpretation I do not see this as a deliberate handling . If you had your hand up and slapped the ball down then it is a different story a there would have been TIME to do something different. I recall the old video USA soccer had out regarding Myths of the game where they attempted to show the difference of ok versus not ok . A shot was directed at player who flinched and turned sideways to play it with the side of the arm it was OK , unlike the young lady standing waiting for a ball to hit her folded hands over her breast then moved those hands into and redirected the ball away as not ok.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

I agree with referee Dawson. If the hand is there to protect the ear, I do not see how this can be deliberate. If the hand starts to play the ball, then it would be. Hard to say without seeing it on a video or live. Unfortunately every referee calls this just a bit different.

Read other questions answered by Referee Ben Mueller

View Referee Ben Mueller profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
In my game at the weekend I awarded a deliberate handling for an incident where a player charged at a ball and he used his arms to protect himself from getting hit with the ball on the head. His option was not to place himself in such a position and he used his arm to assit him in making the play. There was no question that it was deliberate handling.
Now referees will find themselves dealing with the type of incident you describe where the player has no option but to turn away and adopt a natural reaction of protection from a ball blasted at shot range at them. The player may also have had liitle to no option in positioning as to the way play unfolded and they simply found themselves in the way of the ball. That is not deliberate handling.
Have a look at this video
Two deliberate handlings? or None? should the players benefit from their actions. Could they have done anything differently?

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Barry,
I have to agree with you that the NFHS rules seem overly harsh in judging handling when it involves protecting the body. Play Ruling 12.2 Situation C does indeed basically say that any instance of protecting the body with the hands is to be considered as a deliberate handling offence.

To me, the IFAB's Laws of the Game have a better take on this where they say that a referee should consider the distance involved and the unexpected nature of a ball kicked or deflected from close range. It is also (at least for me) a clear and logical conclusion to draw, that if the protective action is an uncontrolled, instinctive reaction due to the unexpected nature of the ball, then that is by the very definition of the words 'uncontrolled' and 'instinctive', not a deliberate act.

This is of course, in contrast to the situation described by ref Dawson where the player had time to move the hands (or the entire body, for that matter) out of the way of the ball but deliberately chose not to.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 31374
Read other Q & A regarding High School

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.