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Question Number: 32574

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/6/2018

RE: Level 7 Adult

Clive Donald of Doncaster, South Yorkshire England asks...


During a football match at the wkend, I awarded a penelty for handball. Its been bothering me as Law 12 is vague around handballs. The attacking team had the ball out on the wings and crosses it into the box. Its a poor cross and defender near front post has clear view of it and attempts to kick it away. Some how he slices the ball and it spins back and hits his hand. There is attacking player behind. The reasons why I gave the penelty, is he had clear view of the ball and could have cleared it easily. If he attempted to strike the ball and he missed it and it hit his hand I would have given handball. However, its not deliberate handball as he did not mean to handle the ball. I would just like other refs opinions on this. In case it happens again.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Clive
The ongoing deliberate handling debate. The fact that it came off the players foot accidentally I would say that it was no deliberate handling. The player had no hope of avoiding the ball and he did not play the ball deliberately with his hand. Yes it hit his hand yet he probably could not do what he did even if he tried or even avoid it.
Had he handled the ball directly from the cross then there would have been a stronger shout for DHB as the ball came from a distance.
Here is an example of not deliberate handling.
I am sure there would have been shouts of *HANDBALL* as there is on every such situation and referees have to resist the pressure to call deliberate handling every time the ball hits the arm. I would safely say that probably every 8 out of 10 times the ball makes contact with a hand or an arm it is not deliberate handling. The fact that you state in your question that it was not deliberate as he did not mean to handle it is the answer. Yes there will be times when a player does not mean or intend to handle yet his arm positioning says otherwise such as making himself bigger, assisting in a charge down, no effort to avoid That did not happen here.
Have a read of Questions 32556, 31516
So do not beat yourself up over a handling call. Plenty other officials will call this as well. It is now the most difficult call in the game to make. It will not be your last such call.
I have a very high threshold on DHB and I rarely give them unless I can clearly see intent such as not avoiding the ball, raising an arm to assist in play. Ball bounces up off a foot or knee will not be called with a big shout NOT DELIBERATE

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Clive,
welcome to refereeing the world game .
This DH foul cause a lot of sphincters to tighten.
It is the only foul where the use of the word deliberate is really based on the attempt to play, not the intent to play.

The fact is we often award the DFK or PK to this foul where the player had no desire to handle the ball at all in fact once could say it was handled accidently BUT because of his attempt we factor in OTHER considerations rather than his intent. .

The distance and speed at which the ball travels, the space around you & your awareness to changes in direction of ball flight, Every DH foul at the WC where the it was determined as a PK or DFK is not only based on these considerations but also on these actions undertaken ahead of playing the ball .

If you run into the ball or defend with your arms spread eagled it will be a DFK or PK if the ball contacts the arm. THe concept ist aking away space, making yourself bigger! Note defenders putting their arms in behind their backs on frontal challenges to block shots

If you slide tackle challenge where you go to ground and the ball contacts the arm it will be a DFK . I watched the CR at the WC demonstrate that very act to the defender who was LUCKY he was outside the PA. I know the defender was saying he did it accidently and the referee is saying yes but you deliberately slide along the ground dragging the arm and scooping up the ball in the process as the attacker was trying to cut it into the box.

If you jump up on the air and place your hands over your head and the ball contacts the arm it will be a DFK . The foul was awarded by the VAR even thought the defender had his back to the play his arms were raised like football uprights over his head on a CROSS into the box. A VERY bad idea.

There was a very good example of a NON foul not given after VAR review
where the ball was headed into the arms of a jumping player whose arms were in what I call a normal jumping position slightly out from the body but not above the head. The fact the ball was headed into a set of arms that were in a normal jump position there was NO foul awarded as the hands were NOT raised above the head

Yet I saw similar one where the ball came into the PA area and hit the arms of a defender doing the same thing but it was a direct contact on an incoming cross not a deflection at close range off the head of another player. His arm were spread eagled as wings. That WAS a VAR awarded PK.

Based on your explanation of the event the defender attempted to clear the ball and miskicked it into his hand. Given he did not swat at it with the arm but the foot and the deflection is too fast and tight to avoid we should NOT see this as a deliberate attempt to use the hands and permit play to continue.

If he had of moved over to control the ball rather than clear it unsuccessfully knocking the ball down from its incoming ball flight it could easily be a DH and a PK but as long as you are positive the arm was not deliberately used to control or the ball in some manner then there is no reason to seek a foul. It is no different then if the ball deflected up into his face to bounce off his nose a ball deflecting into a body part is just play on, even if it is the arm.

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