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Question Number: 32944

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 1/2/2019

RE: Rec Adult

russell of Sydney (home of the worlds best New Year Fireworks), Australia asks...

I agree that deliberate handling is one of the most difficult calls to make in the game - although, I think the call itself is often straightforward, however, the 'sell' of the decision is getting harder every year as we see inconsistent calls in this area in the pro level, which we expect the benchmark, before we factor in age, grade and skill level etc..
The recent Liverpool v Arsenal was a perfect example of how many calls in this area seemed inconsistent and noticeable that the players for both teams seemed frustrated.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Russell, I hope you had a good Christmas & the new year brings you lots of good games to review! lol
in a bid to achieve consistency the elite level has wandered off on a fairness tangent that has NO reality to deliberate at all. It APPEARS they are focusing on if the contact seems to prevent an attack or scoring opportunity it is as justified in being called as if the player HAD reached out and slapped at the ball .

The risk factor idea introduced when players attempt to slide tackle & go to ground with no real control of a sliding body were punished on the principle they created the conditions for the ball to be directed into their outstretched arms . There was no deliberate intent to do this, the tackle was made on the idea to kick the ball away or block it but it seemed blatantly unfair if they slid by the goal and an outstretched arm stopped the ball from entering the goal. The idea had more to do with the positioning resulting from a former decision then the intention of the player to use their hands.

I could understand this concept but they have reached further into the ridiculous idea that it seems the player must ONLY challenge if their hands are behind their backs? As if ANY deliberate action undertaken to win or block a ball is automatically a foul in the making IF ball/arm contact occurs.

Look at HOW many games are being decided on this idiotic enforcement of a foul where the defender has worked so hard not to trip or push the attacking players directly but the opposition are gifted goals & opportunities for this most innocuous of fouls simply because the arms are attached to the body NOT because the arms are intentionally or deliberately used to knock the ball down. ESPECIALLY within the PA? In the World Cup the handling call on Croatia resulting in a goal was ridiculous. I bet you a million dollars that any player born into the game in my era would outright laugh in a referee's face if such a decision was made in a real crucial game as to you are not frigging serious/???

The ball hitting the arm be it a fortunate result or a poor result by the player being struck by the ball on the arm if the action was NOT considered deliberate the referee had the decision to award nothing. NOW it appears if the defending action has the least LITTLE bit of misfortune for the attacking team or resulted in good fortune for the defending team the referee is mandated to make the call as a foul no matter the intent of the defender in question. This is a continuation of the premise that if a goal resulted OFF the arm/hand by an attacker it is EXPECTED not to count (just too advantageous to be fair), just as it WOULD count if it went on OFF a defender per the advantage clause.

I am unsure where the resting place of this determination of the handling foul will play itself out . YET I am sure few will be happy about it!

My colleague & friend Ref McHugh has raised the specter of whether we could make the contact foul of handling an INDFK instead of a DFK based on the type of situation .
The DFK reserved ONLY for the blatant cheater aka Luis Suárez or Thierry Henry type situations.

Yet I still disagree there is a foul present even if we were to go to INDFK for these contact fouls. My solution?
Keep the bloody whistle in your pocket & let the players decide, not gift opportunities out of thin air! Sigh! But then FIFA could not care a less about what I think!

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

We have no idea what instructions referees get at the highest levels of the game. They might be told to ignore 3 of the Laws and modify 6 others, and we'd have no way of knowing. I'm not saying that happens, but a cynic might say it.

However, one maxim out there is that the higher the level of the game, the more likely any action is deliberate. Players can be sneaky, and they may try to make actions seem like they weren't deliberate. Those highest referees call the game based on their experiences in other high level games. and their experiences with that level of players..

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
Ultimately it is up to each referee to call the game the way that he / she sees it. The only bearing what Refs X calls in a Pro game is that it can find its way into the grassroots game through observation by players and coaches.
One of the complaints levelled against referees is inconsistency and not knowing what is being called. Handling is high up in that list and as you point out recent TV games show that.
In the recent Man Utd game v Newcastle I watched the referee not caution Shelvey for a raised boot into the calf of Pogba and a minute later caution Shaw for a pull back. I'm thinking unfairness here yet perhaps the referee did not see the Shelvey incident clearly. Which leads me to the use of VAR on DHB.
I think that a referee has to be able to interpret unintentional when seeing a video replay perhaps from different angles. I recall in the WC the referee not awarding a penalty for the contact on Marcos Rojos arm in the Argentina game v Nigeria. It was suggested that as it came off Rojos own head first it was not deliberate while the previous day in the Portugal v Iran game when on review Cédric Soares of Portugal was adjudged to have deliberately handled the ball in not entirely dissimilar circumstances . Ivan Perisic Croatia and Iran and Denmark's Yussuf Poulsen against Australia were to suffer the same fate which for me were not deliberate handlings as I know it.
Now without doubt the ball struck all the players on the arm and much like the ball striking the foot in hockey which is a technical offence I suggested that rather than the award of a penalty kick that the IDFK could be a solution.
When I see more blatant fouls not being called such as holding at corner kicks, free kicks it annoys me that the ball hitting an arm in some instances gets called as a PK. The only sense I could make of the WC calls was that if it hit the player first before the arm it was not called yet if it hit an opponent first or the arm first it was called. That is not what Law 12 states so we await the deliberations of IFAB to see what solution is proposed. I suspect it will be advice rather than a law change.
We shall see.

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