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Question Number: 32935

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 12/28/2018

RE: Rec

Randall Longhouse of ORLANDO, FL United States asks...

With respect to handling, in order to be an offense the action must be deliberate. However, when an attacker is to benefit from a ball to hand and be off to goal, the spirit of the game, and some players, coaches, and referees seem to prefer a broader interpretation of deliberate.

Would you agree that a slightly different standard should be applied for attacking players who will directly benefit with a goal-scoring opportunity?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Randall,
With the law as it currently stands, handling is only to be penalised if it is ''a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm.'' So if it is not a deliberate act, it should not be penalised. What happens after the point at which there is contact between ball and hand, does not tell us whether it was deliberate or not, which is something that is determined solely by the actions of the player before the contact occurs.

Now there appears to be a fairly widespread sentiment within the game that a player should not get to score a goal when it involves use of the hand, especially if the ball goes directly into the goal off an attacker's hand and there have been indications that as part of amendments that are due to be put forward soon regarding handling offences, it may become illegal to score a goal with the hand. If and when that happens, referees should apply that new law but for now we should stick to the law as it is written, which means that accidental handling should not be penalised, no matter the outcome.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Randall
Deliberate handling is now probably one of the most difficult calls that a referee has to make in the game.
Any contact of the ball on the hand /arm will result in howls of *HANDBALL*. The Law as it currently stands is that referees should only penalise deliberate actions by the player.
On other questions I have used the image of a scale where at one end there is the deliberate action of a player using his hand / arm to move the ball in a clear deliberate action which is a 10 and at the other end of the scale at zero where the ball hits the players hand / arm with no knowledge of the location of the ball purely accidental contact. Black and white decisions at either end of the scale. One a clear offence the other a clear no offence
In the middle there then is the grey area which the game has struggled with as it is very much opinion based at to whether in the opinion of the referee the action was a deliberate act or not.
Many in the game due to human nature and equity will tend to punish the instances where the player has benefitted from the contact on the hand / arm and indeed some training videos that I have seen support the principle of punishing certain actions whether deliberate or not such as in the slide tackle.
Let me pose this scenario. An attacker who is in the goal area loses the flight of the ball over his head which is now behind him and a defender clearing the ball kicks it from a yard away which hits the players hand which is at his side and it rebounds into the goal. What would be the decision?
The only decision in Law is to award a goal as the action was not deliberate just accidental. The attacker had no notion of where the ball was nor had he any chance to avoid the ball.
That is at zero scale of decision. We know though that these decision are not that simple with many in the grey area of the scale such as the player with his hands lifted away from his body.
So my advice is to look at each situation and make a decision based on whether the action was a deliberate one not whether there was benefit in the outcome.

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