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: 31627

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/1/2017

RE: Competitive mixed Adult

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

In a recent mixed-league game, there was a DFK from outside the PA.

A female defender lined up 10 yards off the ball and stood with her open hand in front of her forehead, as protection. I believe she was just inside the PA.

I had never seen this before but thought, 'Okay, if the ball hits her hand, I'll let it go, as ball-to-hand.'

BUT. At the moment of the kick, the defender leaped, keeping her hand near her forehead.

When I saw that, my thinking changed. She had now put her hand in a higher place, making it a potential handball foul -- and a PK, if in the box.


(The ball missed her and was headed harmlessly out of the box.)

Thanks again!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
In a defensive wall there is no problem with using arms for protection provided the player just stands there and allows the ball to make contact. The arms are placed in position before the kick. Jumping up or moving into the ball negates the protection part. So it is understood that placing hands or arms to protect the body at a free kick or similar restart is not likely to produce an infringement unless there is subsequent action to direct or control the ball.
Now this action is never seen at the higher levels of the women's game yet it appears to be a coached tactic at lower levels. Now we know that at younger age groups players have a fear of the ball and react defensively to a ball kicked at them. The player no doubt has been coached to put her hand in front of her face yet once the player jumped she changed the situation entirely as she has then used the hand to assist in playing the ball not for protection.
Now I would not recommend players placing their arms high on the head for protection. First off the protection is limited as the force is not negated much plus the raised arm makes the player wider. It is always a good idea to inform the player that placement of the arm will result in deliberate handling should she jump making contact with the ball.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Barry,
I'm not sure I would see a hand placed in front of the forehead as a legitimate means of protection, especially not at adult level. I would expect an adult player to be able to either head the ball or duck (though whether a coach would appreciate a defender ducking out of the way of a free kick is a different matter). So I don't know that I would give the player a pass on this.

If the hands were in front of the body and/or in a 'neutral' position and the player did not move the hands after the free kick was taken, I would most likely not see this as the ''deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm'' but as always, it is difficult to judge without seeing the incident.

Once the player jumps into the path of the ball though, then I agree with you that the potential for a deliberate handling offence greatly increases.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Barry,
look to the skill set and age. In recreational fun soccer no need to get bent over a bit of unusual action UNLESS it is unfair or makes the player taller or wider. Many times when players jump they close their eyes at impact. Be it a fist to forehead or over crotch or wrapped over breasts. I have seen kids and some adults cover their head with their arms on a high ball because they are scared or nervous. There is justification within the LOTG to see such action as deliberate but what is the reason in a fun match if there is no obvious attempt to cheat or unfair repercussions? Unless they blatantly bat the ball away a hand in front of the face that the ball WOULD have hit anyway I see no reason to award a foul especial youth and unskilled adults.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 31627
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

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.