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Question Number: 32856

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/29/2018

RE: High School High School

Peter of Stockton, CA United States asks...


I was looking at a CNRA webinar on handling the ball:

The webinar goes into handling the ball and is indeed quite interesting. The item that I have a concern with occurs at about the 30th minute. Apparently FIFA instructs referees to take into account fairness when a player handles the ball by accident. I understand what they are saying, but I have a problem with telling a coach / player that I am calling a foul on a play that would not be a foul other than it is unfair. I can see me being asked if a player slipping is also going to be called as unfair.

I would love to hear your take on this.


Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Peter,
we actually addressed this already in question 32814. I would reread those answers but here is some things to chew on as it were!

When they pulled away from using INTENT as a method of determining a foul ( given referees are not mind readers) We do though have opinions, thoughts and gut instincts that we use to sort out if the player genuinely meant to do something. The LOTG went away from using this concept more to "Deliberate Actions" as opposed to INTENTIONAL action which now allows us to consider an accidental handling in the player was NOT intending to do so but had the arm & ball come into contact due to HOW the player & what action went into the challenge.

The reasoning was to TRY and get a more consistent action by referees around the world so the player & coaches were not pulling their hair out wondering why one call is a DFK or PK & no call for what looks like exactly the same thing at the other end?

If you notice now on offside they went to a deliberate action (which resets offside for the opponent) defining a difference between a deflection (which is like saying it was accidentally contacted ) thus no offside reset .

It is IMPOSSIBLE to challenge for the ball and not have your arms be there in the area as they are attached to the body . You could have noticed that when defenders move forward to block they often try to wrap their arms around their backside to avoid going in with arms wide blocking space.
If we go direct to the LOTG and not opinions exposed by interpretive dance masters use this one put forth by the USSF sponsored by FIFA/IFAB as a continuing education program through the IFAB referee consulting team & the FIFA referee committee in a direct response to their AGM which was directed to DEAL with the inconsistencies on the Pitch on the foul of Handles the ball deliberately. Esse Baharmast’s who was part of the team along with Pierluigi Collina taught this same concept at the FIFA U-21 world Championship. Esse is teaching FIFA directives not state policy interpretation.

The deliberate action of going into a slide tackle where you throw yourself down in a last ditch effort to knock a ball away but if the arms make ball contact even accidentally, the DFK/PK will be awarded because you deliberately left your feet to RISK it!

For a Law to be changed, The IFAB must be convinced that the change will
benefit the game. This sometimes means that the proposal will be tested,IFAB has approved a strategy for 2017–22 to examine and consider
proposed changes to see if they will benefit the game. This will involve focusing
on three important areas:
1 Fairness and integrity
•• will the proposed change strengthen the game’s fairness and integrity on
the field of play?
2 Universality and inclusion
•• will the proposed change benefit football at all levels throughout the
•• will the proposed change encourage more people from all backgrounds
and abilities to take part in and enjoy football?
3 The growth of technology
•• will the proposed change have a positive impact on the game?
In the coming months, The IFAB, working with its expert panels, will consult
widely on the correct interpretation of Handball

Handling the ball
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 offence
• touching the ball with a thrown object or one held in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc. is an offence)

NO WHERE is an accidental handling that is not a foul outside the PA becomes a foul inside the PA due to fairness. A ball can rebound off any body part INCLUDING the hands/arms & wind up in the opposition goal. The end of your elbow is as hard as your knee cap. Fingers compacted by a hard kick from 3 feet away jammed in their sockets now swelled possibly broken the ball rebounded into the opposition goal for a lucky goal but not unfair because that same kick could have smacked you in the face broken your nose and wound up in the opposition goal. The arms cannot always get out of the way. When we BELIVE they can or should yes we call the foul but this trend to just call a foul to make it seem fair is BS.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
Unfortunately this opinion appears to be getting a little traction,
We answered this in # 32814
As we said the advice is flawed and has no basis in Law. If it not deliberate handling we do not call it whether it benefits a team or not.
I believe that deliberate handling is now the most difficult call for referees to make and that there is an attempt to try to bring advice that deals with fairness rather than whether it is an offence or not.
To say that if a defender handles the ball in the exact same way as an attacker that we call one and not the other on the basis of fairness has no basis whatsoever in Law. Okay human nature may lead us to that decision yet that is poor officiating. In the Esse Baharmast video he cites coaches that they are saying that they do not know what is being called by referees. This is a perfect example of calling one while the exact same offence not being called. How much more confusing can that be?

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Peter,
Rather than just restate it in a slightly different form of wording, I'll just say that I agree 100% with everything ref McHugh says in his response.

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