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Question Number: 32358

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/10/2018

RE: Adult

Mika Lehtonen of Helsinki, Finland asks...


I would like to have your opinion!

Is this (first) situation hand ball or not?

Best Regards,

Mika Lehtonen

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mika
Thanks for the question
The video raises again an interesting topic that was aired some time ago on the site. It is the question of deliberate handling by a defender who goes to ground in making a challenge and who then makes contact on the ball with the hand or arm.
Referee Dawson posted a video of a training seminar for senior referees conducted by Referee Esse Baharmast USSF.
A number of videos included similar situations to your video are shown. A show of hands was asked for and the numbers did not surprise me as it was 50/50. Half saw it as deliberate handling while the other half saw it as accidental. I sat through a recent similar UEFA training module on handling and the room also had divided opinions on many calls similar to the USSF session. Therein is the problem for the game.
So as we can see some USSF training to groups advising referees that defenders should not be rewarded with a no call when going to ground and collecting the ball with the arm. It is though not uniform throughout the world and some will argue that it is somewhat at odds with the Laws as only deliberate handling should be punished. The Laws tell us that
** Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm. The following must be considered:
# the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
# the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
# the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an infringement
# touching the ball with an object held in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.) is an infringement
# hitting the ball with a thrown object (boot, shinguard, etc.) is an infringement.**
Now I could look at your video and say that none of the factors were present in that the ball was unexpected, the ball was towards the arm, the distance was so close the player could not avoid the ball, the position of the arm was natural etc. Based on Referee Baharmast's advice USSF though he is opining and advising that it should be punished with a direct free kick or penalty.
I personally think that the deliberate handling law needs to be revised and overhauled to make it consistent throughout the world. I have come to the conclusion that there could be two handling offences with accidental punished by an IDFK and deliberate with a DFK. If it is a technical foul it should be a technical IDFK. I think that would tidy it up. Give an IDFK here rather than a PK.
By the way from the angle of the video I would say that the penalty award on the challenge was harsh as I thought the player played the ball first in the challenge?

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Mika,
Ref McHugh raises some excellent points. There are a number very high level referees who seem to be getting taught that if a defender has chosen to make a slide tackle, then any handling is to be deemed 'deliberate', based on the presumption that they've assumed all risk by going to ground and the opponent shouldn't be disadvantaged by that risk.

I would argue that this is at odds with the LOTG. Ref McHugh raises the relevant points from the Laws. So there may be a problem that referees in different areas may be getting taught different things here.

I would agree that it looks like the arm is in a natural position given the slide and he hasn't extended the arm unnecessarily (unlike a slide tackle with the arm trailing behind, or up in the air). It appears that he had no time to react. It does look like there was more than 1 contact and perhaps he did have time to react to the 2nd one - or perhaps the arm did move towards the ball. Impossible to tell from the video, so let's assume that wasn't the case. Maybe the arm is much further out from the body than it looks on this video.

So, with those assumptions, I would have said 'no foul'....but given the advice that seems to be going around the top tiers these days, I'd say 'foul'. But are the referees in that league being trained the same way?

Sorry the answer isn't black and white!

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Mika,
The NEW training material supported by the IFAB & FIFA AGM that SPECIFICALLY requested the handling inconsistencies be dealt with will have this as a PK 100% of the time!

I am completely at ease with the idea of the RISK factor given it is a deliberate action to go down to ground to slide usually a desperate attempt to prevent a cross or shot and IF the hands become involved I see no reason to take the opportunity away from the attacker who did nothing wrong.

I am very very adamant that ALL referees must see this as a PK because it allows the needed consistency for players and coaches. Plus it is way easier to explain and defend!

What is funny I watched the video to the end and found the PK awarded for the trip was in my opinion a VERY soft PK. I thought it a reasonable attempt!

Keep in mind we are talking about ACTIVE deliberate participation by a defender not someone who has fallen or was already on the ground. I just want all referees to grasp that intent has NOTHING to do with whether we see the attempt as deliberate!

Esse's training video is FULLY accredited and supported by the IFAB & FIFA Referee committee. In fact THEY requested he put together something to fight the inconsistent policies that exist around the world! This is NOT the USSF going off on their own! There is no referee in the world that I respect more than Esse .


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