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Question Number: 33566

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 8/10/2019

RE: Youth to adult, comp and rec.

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

This question is a follow up to question 33562

Regarding handball or no: ' if the hand/arm is close to the body and does not make the body unnaturally bigger '

Surely, if the player has time to move the arm out of the way, they are obliged to. For example, a lobbed ball from 10 or 20 paces away and the player keeps the arm tucked to the side and uses it to redirect the ball.

I was amazed a few months ago when a very skilled and experienced player objected to my calling a handball on her when she had plenty of time to move her arm (or turn her body, so it wouldn't hit the arm.) 'That's never called that way,' she protested.

I'll keep calling it that way¦ unless your panel advises otherwise.

Thanks, as always.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Barry,
You are semi correct it is one thing is to be aware of the space time, ball speed and age in turning to let an impact on the side as a simple aversion to taking it hard on the chest or face. That is quite different versus camping under the ball or running forward with elbows out crossed on the breast as a hard deflection surface. When there is plenty of time, space, ball speed and trajectory are easily calculated because the kids are aware enough to make rational decisions rather than just a reacted impulse. Yet on a defensive wall the hands can be kept as is and you should not take their being impacted as long as they are not widening the area. I think you get that skill and conditions will vary versus age and competition levels. Just be consistent so they can rely on your decisions to be equitable.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
The great deliberate handling debate rumbles on.
The changes that IFAB introduced in June brought clarity to the ball hitting a hand or an arm as it must be called as handling if a goal is scored or in a goal scoring opportunity. Accidental contact in those two instances is penalised in the same way as deliberate handling.
The Law goes on further to say
** 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 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 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.
So a player who leaves an arm at her side to play the ball can be guilty of making herself bigger and that is deliberate handling.
Now as you know these are never black and white as the ball can take a bad bounce, a hard bounce, a misjudged flight of the ball, the player reacts slowly etc.
Just finished watching Porto in a Portuguese League game and what looked like what you described was waved away by the referee for a last minute penalty to tie up the game. Might have been given at half way lol
I recall a few seasons ago in a Women's game and near the end a substitute came on. In one instance she watched the flight of the ball towards her from a distance and at the last moment took fright that the ball was going to hit her head and raised her arms for protection. She had no intention of playing the ball with her arms just protection so I just called it as not deliberate and play continued.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Barry,
You're absolutely correct (and that player you've quoted is completely wrong!) - if a player has ample time to move their arm out of the way, and chooses not to - then by anybody's definition thats deliberate handling.

One thing to consider is that you've only provided a partial quote of the law - and missed the part that may answer your question. The line you've quoted falls under the purview of another line which says 'except for the above offences, it is not usually an offence if the ball touches a players hand/arm....' (then goes on to include the line you've quoted as a dot point).
Key word is USUALLY.
That means that the referee is still free to make their own judgement - so in the case where the player has allowed the ball to strike their arm when they have plenty of time to react, that would still be a foul. Even if the arm is directly in front of the body and not making it bigger at all (for instance - female players who have been taught the incorrect and illegal practice of using their forearms to 'chest' the ball down).

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Barry,
Even with all the other changes in the definitions and considerations surrounding handball offences, the law still says that:

''It is an offence if a player deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm ...''

For me, a player who has had ample time to move their hand/arm out of the way of a ball they have seen coming from a long way away and deliberately chooses not to, has touched the ball with their hand/arm deliberately - and thereby has committed a handling offence.

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