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Question Number: 31435

Law 17 - The Corner Kick 4/6/2017

RE: Adult

Mark of Harlow, Essex U.K. asks...

Player slips taking a corner, handles ball. This happen in premier league yesterday. Does the ref give handball and direct free kick or should he give indirect free kick for touching it twice

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Mark,
I got the impression that the AR was just as confused as a lot of spectators and players in this incident!
There are a few things here to look at - and the most important point is the final one :-
The laws state that when 2 offences have occurred simultaneously, the more serious one is punished. Specifically, if a player kicks the ball into play, then deliberately handles the ball (DHB), 2 offences have occurred. DHB, and touching it twice before touching another player. The latter is an indirect free kick (IFK), the former is a direct free kick (DFK), so you award the DFK.

However, DHB must be deliberate. Accidental handling that controls the ball is never a foul. So, falling forwards with arms outstretched onto the ball isn't a foul - after all, you have no control over your arms when that happens. But, in this instance, you can see the player actually used his hand to swat at the ball as he was falling. There's a very clear movement of the hand towards the ball. So, had this occurred in general play, this would be DHB.

But there's the problem - in play. At any restart except a throw-in, the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves. In the context of the LOTG, kicked means with the foot. Here, the player fell and struck the ball with his knee first - so the ball is never in play. Therefore, the correct decision should have been a retake.

I've heard some discussion on social media about this being a deliberate ploy, timewasting or some such. I accept that may be possible, but I see no clear evidence of this - and the referee would want to be utterly certain of this to even consider a caution (and even then, it's still a retake - just a caution). I think people are looking for malicious intent where there is none - give the player the benefit of the doubt, after all.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mark,
Had the ball been in play when the player deliberately handled it, the decision would be a direct free kick. Not only is there the general principle ref Wright mentions of punishing the more serious offence, it is also specifically stated in Law 17 (The Corner Kick):

''If, after the ball is in play, the kicker touches the ball again before it has touched another player an indirect free kick is awarded; if the kicker deliberately handles the ball: a direct free kick is awarded''

However, as Law 17 also says:

''The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves''

As Ref Wright further pointed out, the ball was not kicked here, therefore it was never in play and so the correct decision should have been a retake.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mark
For deliberate handling to be called the ball must be in play. For it to be in play the ball must be kicked and moved. Put it like this. Would a referee penalise a player for moving the ball with his hands to reposition it before a kick such as a corner, free kick?
So the player falling on the ball has not put the ball in play so it cannot be deliberate handling if he uses his hand or the ball hits his arm. The simple solution is a retake.
Now I have watched the video of this particular incident and I am unsure whether the ball made contact with the players foot first or his knee. There is a possibility of the foot being used in which case the referee can opine that the ball was in play. The player pulled the ball back with his hand to reposition it for a retake which caused the AR to flag for a handling offence. The player accepted it and it was no big deal for the team. If it was his knee that played the ball then the corner kick had not been properly taken and Law 17 tells us that for any other infringement of this Law the corner kick is retaken.
The AR is beside the kick and one would think he saw the ball making contact with the foot. If not it should have been a retake. It would only be an IDFK if it was a double touch. Deliberate handling is always a direct feee kick restart on a double touch as it is the more serious offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Mark,
much ado about nothing. When everybody gets involve things get crazy. The player fell into to the ball, it was not kicked retake it! Restarts for HOW the LOTG would permit an INDFK for 2nd touch or a DFK for deliberately handling the ball are straight forward enough.

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