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: 31700

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 8/12/2017

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

This question is a follow up to question 31691

I am sorry,

it is very difficult to translate verbatim citations from Czech into English. These languages have a very different logic:-)

Prihoda said something about natural hand position.

I have last question about deliberately handball.

How do you decide on the pitch when the ball touches the line between shoulder and arm? It seems to me that the referees usually consider these situations to be allowed. Or do I see it wrong?


Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Petr,
the upper chest and shoulder are NOT considered as illegal body parts of the arm. The fleshy part of the arm muscle is often used to trap or cage a crossed ball so that it LOOKS like it is off the chest by just slightly pushing the arm out in front of the chest which cradles the ball and IS a deliberate handling offence . If the arm are neutral hanging down or pulled back than the ball is hitting only the chest and maybe the collarbone top so there is no foul.

Language issues aside the LOTG are supposed to be applied uniformly but I can attest when it comes to the foul of handles the ball deliberately because it resides as an OPINION on a fact of play based SOLEY on the referee understanding and point off view this infraction is the most misdiagnosed of the LAW 12 infringements. The arms/hands are attached to the body and they follow along in whatever fashion be it normal, usual, awkward, natural, unnatural, sigh. All the player can do is try to get the arms out of the balls path & hope the referee has a good view with a good understanding of the law.

We are instructed to utilize the spirit of the laws within a match adjusting the characterization of the expectations where in recognizing players & coaches do not like advantages gained or deflected goals scored off the hand/arm EVEN if totally accidental . In the match you showed me it looks as if the unseemly advantage prompted, a not in my match reaction by the referee believing the players would agree with such a decision. It is true this dislike even prompts player to tell on themselves lol

Have a look at this video while not directly related to your question it shows how FIFA is using RISK to find fault even if the handling is unintentional in the player had no desire or intention to handle the ball but it resulted off a deliberate action where he could NO LONGER control his body.

Esse was my mentor in this great game who I took a great deal of my own personal philosophy from based on the spirit an integrity of this man himself. There is a 5 minute video called 'The referee at the centre of World Cup storm " which is the single greatest video that shows the true spirit of integrity watch it and you will feel and understand why I love and respect this man who I hardly know personally but my life was made better for him being in it!


Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
Deliberate handling happens when a player uses his arm or hand. The arm for that purpose is from the tip of the shoulder all the way down. The best way to describe it is to move the arm away from the body and to look at the shirt line. Only the part that moves is considered for handling.
When the ball hits the upper chest it can be difficult to determine if the ball hit the arm or the chest particularly when the arm is tight to the chest. Move the arm away from the chest and it is much more obvious when the upper arm in tight to the chest.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 31700
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.