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Question Number: 31673

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 8/3/2017

Petr of Prague, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...

This question is a follow up to question 31671

I have one additional question please. The player processes a ball with his leg (head, chest) in clear situation. Then the ball touches his hand in natural position. Does it change decision making, because the player has the first touch fully under control? Or not? Thanks!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
In situations where the ball hits say a knee, chest and the ball then unexpectedly hits an arm in a natural position that is rarely deliberate handling. The player does not know that the ball is going to deflect off the body part on to the arm so unlikely to be deliberate.
I also struggle to imagine a situation where a player has control of the ball with say a body part and the ball then hits an arm. If it was under control then that is unlikely would you not think.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Petr,
it is a good question because we place a great deal of emphasis on deliberate actions where the attempt to play is in fact intentional but the results are not what the player desired! In effect they wind up with the arm /hand making contact with the ball but that was never their intention it slide off the chest or deflected off the ground a bit funny with some spin etc or a brisk wind and the arm and ball come into contact, forcing a decision from the referee as to yes it is or not it was not! This is especially true when players slide tackle and the ball is played into their arm or hands with them screaming it was not the intent but they FORGET they took a deliberate action that has RISK attached in they do not easily control body parts when attempting a tackle where you basically fire your body INCLUDING your arms at an opponent to stop a pass or try to take away the ball.

In a recent men's match the long ball played over the top assisted by a strong wind bounced directly in front of the sweeper who was at least 15 yards away from the nearest opponent. He kind of placed his arms at his side kind of like the chicken dance at a wedding, leaning to take the ball off his chest . The ball skipped up and caught him on the side of his face bounced up his shoulder and ran down his arm as he tried to pull it away. I made no call allowed play to continue although there were grumbles for a deliberate handling foul. Later in the same match, a shot at goal, the defender lunges at the ball by sticking out his left leg the ball goes off the knee directly into the forearm that was extended with the leg. I award a PK. In both cases the defender tried deliberately to play the ball in the first one I saw it as nothing in the second I saw it as a PK . When asked why in the post game I replied in the 1st instance the defender struggled with a wind assisted spinning ball that obviously had moved sideways once it impacted the ground with a great deal of spin and it rolled up into his face off the shoulder rolling down his arm that he was trying to move the arm back around his back. It was CLEAR to me it was the ball creating these issues and the player was simply reacting to the situation. The Biggest difference in the 2nd incident the lunge of the leg also involved the outstretched arm in the direction the ball was headed. Same idea of risk assessment in a slide tackle you throw out the body part in the general area where there is EVERY chance the ball could make contact. In the 2nd incident if the player had left his arms extend back in behind him as he stretched out the leg and the ball off the knee had somehow contacted the trailing arm I likely see no foul as the player arms were OBVIOUSLY not being used to play the ball !

I stand by ANY decision I make on the FOP. As should any referee but there is are always incidents where perception sees intent deliberate or accidental slightly different . There is also cases for the occasional deliberate handling to be considered trifling.


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Petr,
I would say that the basic tenets of the law - and therefore of the judgement call, remain basically the same. The referee must still decide if this was a deliberate act or not. However I agree with ref McHugh that a situation where the player has the ball clearly under control and then plays it onto their own hand or arm is very difficult to conceive of.

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