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Question Number: 32034

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/19/2017

RE: REC Adult

russell of Sydney, Australia asks...

Penalty / no pemalty.

In the recent PSG v Nantes match, near the end and in the lead up to the last PSG goal, in an attempt to clear the ball, a Nantes defender hit another Nantes team mate who has raised his arms (clearly in self preservation) and the ball struck him in the arms.

While the ball fell fortuitously for PSG and a goal resulted, what if it didn't - would there be justification for a handball penalty?

Personally, I feel this is a good opportunity to use the 'spirit' inclusion in the recent re write of the LOTG, and call 'Play-on'.

No PSG player was seen to be calling for a penalty, but then again, it all happen to fast that a gaol came anyway.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
The recent penalty award in the N Ireland v Switzerland game prompted me to write to IFAB about the offence of deliberate handling which is currently the subject of an expert panel of review.
I did not write to criticise the referee or his decision yet to point out that advice alone will not sort this particular problem for the game. I refer to it as the scale of 0 to 10 with no knowledge of the ball hitting the player at zero and moving the ball intentionally with an arm or hand at 10. The difficulty always arise in the grey middle area of 4 to 7 which can go either way depending on the opinion of the referee.
So for me there are three instances of handling to be considered. One is where the ball hits the arm without the knowledge of the player, the second is where the player deliberately moves the ball with his hand and the third is the ball hitting the arm at pace from a kick.
In the past number of years I believe I have had at most two deliberate handlings where the player intentionally moved the ball with his arm / hand. I had one today where the player reached out to stop a ball going past him which a stonewall DHB and a caution. I have had countless charges with the arms raised and then a good many situations where the ball has struck a player similar to the example shown
This is not deliberate handling for me. The ball is blasted at the player from short range, he has not moved towards the ball and he cannot avoid the ball. Human nature results in the arms moving for protection in such situations not to make the player bigger or assist in helping charge the ball down.
Now some suggest that better advice will sort this for the game and I disagree. I watched a video posted by Referee Dawson on a training seminar for senior referees conducted by Referee Esse Baharmast USSF. A number of videos were shown and a show of hands was asked for. The numbers did not surprise me. I sat through a recent UEFA training module on handling and the room had divided opinions on many calls similar to the USSF session. Therein is the problem.
In the N Ireland penalty award the referee opined that the ball hit the players arm as he moved toward the ball. Maybe it did or didn't and that is not the question. The real question is whether the sanction fitted the offence in the circumstances. If I go back to my experience I have had two / three intentional handlings where the player moved the ball with his hand which deserve to be punished by a direct free kick and then the ball striking an arm situations which are technically the same offence yet different in manner. Perhaps as it is technically a handling offence these should be punished as a technical offence with an IDFK. In the N Ireland situation had Switzerland got an IDFK on the penalty area line it would have restored the shot opportunity. As it stands now it is either an DHB offence or it isn't punished by a direct free kick or nothing.
Okay some will say that it will not work yet it is plainly not working. Something has to change

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Russell,
you know I am a huge advocate of a rewrite of handling offences as INDFK rather than DFKs unless they are a blatant reach out and grab goal stopping event like the World Cup Mr Suarez performance.
I take this position because of the unfair awarding of nonsensical PKS for easy goals out of defenders simply trying to defend against a fast moving or erratic ball flight. They NEED to include the word OBVIOUS in any handling determination version of this law if is the intention to restore a scoring opportunity ! This arm versus ball hit contact is destroying the confidence of the public to have any faith in the outcome of games as being fair.
I have no real aversion to the idea that a player who deliberately slide tackles when challenging for ball possession takes a risk of the arms being unable to be withdrawn as uncontrolled the same as the careless, reckless or excessive aspect such tackles are considered.
The fact there was no foul in that NI versus Swiss match yet it was called anyway. To think we have to compensate a poor decision with an INDFK restart as less forbidding than an unwarranted PK maybe the only way to lessen the impact although I am sure a percentage will still score and still be a travesty.

as I stated in 32031 A fast moving ball or a sudden change in direction of ball flight can create some interesting ball/arm contact moments but one must strive to grasp the difference between being unable to get out of the way , a protective flinch, a random spinning of a quick moving ball that is not controllable and a true definitive definite deliberate action designed to stop the ball from progressing. Plus there are times to see handling as trifling or doubtful. Unless I am 100% convinced it WAS handling the ball deliberately incident I make no call although at youth or recreational levels I often say 'Nothing there, accidental! to show those I DID see it. Just did not see it as a foul.


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