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Question Number: 33504

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/7/2019

RE: Competitive Adult

Refjak of Malindi, Kenya Kenya asks...

An attacker kicked within the penalty area kicked the ball in an attempt to score but the ball went onto contact with the hand of an opponent who was approaching this attacker attacker at a very high speed to contest for the ball; about 2m away from the attacker at the time of the contact. Trying to avoid a head-on kick with ball (or probable harm) the defender rolled slightly facing back with the hand swaying outward exactly at the time of contact. The ball bounced off him and fired towards the very direction the defender was racing, so he took control. No whistle, play on. Considering law 12 part 1 under handling offences, there is a clause which begins with ...'except fo the above offences...' referring to the handling offences and goes to say if the ball coming to contact with the hand came from a player who is close, it is not an offence. In this scenario; 2m or even less. However, on a WhatsApp group we were debating on the same and I was left alone with all my seniors claiming it had to be a penalty and that the referee missed it.
My qn; is it the referee of that match and I or these fellow referees who were shutting me down on the wall who actually could be wrong according the laws? NB; this was an AFCON match using the 2019/2020 LOTG.
Thanks in advance!

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Refjak,
Nothing HAS to be a penalty if there is an OPINION of perspective that a referee must see it as such.

FIFA/IFAB have placed a explanation within their LOTG book of the TYPE of things to be aware of upon arriving at a decision when ball & hand or hand & ball meet. This is an attempt to TRY to achieve consistancy in how referees look at these situation so we can arrive at decisions that players & coaches can feel we are on the same page not just making it up we go along .

The DFK foul of a deliberate handling requires a subjective evaluation based on criteria & circumstances. How close & fast and whether the arm is considered to be in a natural position requires an OPINION by referee if the action meets the requirements of said action to be deemed a foul. In this case the referee has concluded the defender could not possibly get out of the way and thus this action was accidental not deliberately enacted. So he permitted play to continue. People might agree to disagree that it should be a yes or no, but opinions are perspective evaluations and not everyone's opinion is always correct. The thing is it is a FACT of play once a decision is rendered by the referee, it can not be undone unless he was incorrect under the LOTG in its application.

Now a different referee might see the act of a defender running at the attacker to close down the space was part of a deliberate action to intercept the ball and the arms, being attached to the body, were permitted to swing out & away widening the area to where a pass or shot was unfairly affected, thus he would in fact call it a foul. As I have pointed out each referee will have an opinion of a event based on the point of view, their angle of view & their understanding of the LOTG.

What is interesting is, you point out that the handling, although declared accidental with NO foul, the defender received a very advantageous bounce to not only take possession but begin a counter attack?

Now right or wrong the LOTG seemingly condemn ANY handling action, even if accidental, especially where the handler benefits, while not a real foul it is is somehow unfair to the spirit of the game . Thus it becomes a manufactured foul and play is required to be stopped if a goal is scored or a scoring opportunity arises as a result of this ball/hand contact.

Could the counter attack be creating a goal-scoring opportunity? Imagine if this counter attack aided by the fortuitous bounce of said ball off the hand had lead to a goal at the other end??? lol

Should we take away the goal and go back to the PK? While I do not believe that is what the LOTG was trying for nor within the spirit of the game . It has more to do with attackers in the defending PA achieving immediate benefits and a dfk out is not a scoring threat even if it is a possession switch. Interesting point though.

Handling the ball
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

Except for the above offences, 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)
• 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
• 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

The goalkeeper has the same restrictions on handling the ball as any other
player outside the penalty area. If the goalkeeper handles the ball inside their
penalty area when not permitted to do so, an indirect free kick is awarded but
there is no disciplinary sanction.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

The question of deliberate handling has challenged the game for a very long time.
IFAB in the most recent Laws of the Game has tried to bring greater clarity for handball offences , especially on those occasions when ‘non- deliberate’ handball is an offence.
Referee Dawson has outlined the wording of the current advice.
Now some of those advices are still subjective so the action you describe can be viewed as either deliberate or not depending on the opinion of the referee.
I watched recent Women's WC, AFCON and Copa America games and I was of the opinion that some handling offences that were given I felt I would not give and I could find the relevant clause in the wording advice to justify those decisions.
I could see a ball being kicked at close range to a player who has made himself 'bigger' by extending his arms and the same kick opine that the arms were closer to the body.
In this video the referee gives a penalty kick.
In my opinion that is harsh decision while another referee could say otherwise.
Now look at this video of handling that was not given
Any real significant differences in the two instances?
As you can see somewhat similar incidents can be treated differently and neither decisions are *wrong* or *right* for that matter.
I have argued that if the games wants to take out the subjective decision making then make them all IDFK offences except where a card is issued. Then the only question then is whether the ball hits the hand or not.
As it stands your example could be a penalty or play on depending on the opinion of the referee.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Refjak,
As my colleagues have said, even with the new wording in the 2019/20 laws there is still scope for debate over what is or is not a handling offence. About the only instance where it can be said that a handball must be given, is when it leads directly to a goal or goal scoring opportunity (and there could even be some uncertainty over what constitutes a GSO).

You will note that the law uses the phrases 'usually an offence' and 'not usually an offence' in describing the various scenarios where a handling offence might occur - so again, it does not allow total certainty that a handling offence has definitely occurred (except for a goal/GSO, as mentioned).

So in the scenario you describe, it is still up to the referee to decide if an offence has occurred or not, even though the criteria surrounding the question have changed.

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