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Question Number: 33156

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/17/2019

RE: College

Mel of Stuttgart, Germany asks...

If the ball hits the body first or part of it (e.g. leg) and from there it hits the arm or hand (opened, not on body) is it considered handball then?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Mel,
it will depend on what the player was doing based on the vantage point & understanding by the CR or AR of what they see! ? A DEFENDING player on a slide tackle or with arms outstretched trying to cut down the passing lanes may well be held accountable where as a player receiving a pass having it jump up via a deflection may well be looked at differently. Yet for an attacker if the ball advantageously falls to their foot for a goal, good shot or quick attack as now we consider THAT an unfair result and while accidental would be called as a DFK out whereas a defender at the other end SHOULD not be called as it would be a PK.

The actual new wording for 2020 with an explanation provided
It is an offence if a player:
• deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, including moving the hand/arm
towards the ball
• gains possession/control of the ball after it has touched their hand/arm and then:
• scores in the opponents’ goal
• creates a goal-scoring opportunity
• scores in the opponents’ goal directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental,
including by the goalkeeper
It is usually an offence if a player:
• touches the ball with their hand/arm when:
• the hand/arm has made their body unnaturally bigger
• the hand/arm is above/beyond their shoulder level (unless the player deliberately
plays the ball which then touches their hand/arm)

The above offences apply even if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from
the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close.

Except for the above offences, it is not usually an offence if the ball touches a player’s
• directly from the player’s own head or body (including the foot)
• directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close
•if the hand/arm is close to the body and does not make the body unnaturally bigger
• when a player falls and the hand/arm is between the body and the ground to
support the body, but not extended laterally or vertically away from the body

Greater clarity is needed for handball, especially on those occasions when ‘non deliberate’ handball is an offence. The re-wording follows a number of principles:
• football does not accept a goal being scored by a hand/arm (even if accidental)
• football expects a player to be penalized for handball if they gain possession/control
of the ball from their hand/arm and gain a major advantage e.g. score or create
a goal-scoring opportunity
•it is natural for a player to put their arm between their body and the ground for
support when falling.
• having the hand/arm above shoulder height is rarely a ‘natural’ position and a
player is ‘taking a risk’ by having the hand/arm in that position, including when
•if the ball comes off the player’s body, or off another player (of either team) who is
close by, onto the hand/arm it is often impossible to avoid contact with the ball.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mel
Referee Dawson has outlined the new Law that will come into effect on the 1st June 2019.
It probably reflects the current interpretation of deliberate handling which is that if the ball hits part of a players body which redirects the ball onto the players own arm it is rarely called deliberate handling.
As an example, in the last World Cup Rojo of Argentina headed the ball on to his arm in the game v Nigeria.
It was reviewed by the referee using the VAR system and he opined that it was not deliberate handling, no doubt based on the advice at the time to FIFA WC referees, soon to be made part of Law, which states that it is not usually an offence if the ball touches a players hand/arm directly from the player’s own head or body (including the foot).
Ultimately it is up to the referee on the day based on the circumstances, the position of the arm etc. If the referee felt that the action was indeed a deliberate action it would be called.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mel,
As with many such decisions, it's often extremely difficult if not impossible to say whether something was an offence without actually seeing it. Even then and especially with potential handling offences, it's up to the opinion of the referee. What I would say is that I agree with the idea that the new wording due to come into effect on June would apply and that, ''it is not usually an offence if the ball touches a player's hand/arm directly from the player's own head or body (including the foot)'' though there are of course exceptions.

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