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Question Number: 33752

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/4/2019

RE: Other

Sal of CHICAGO, IL USA asks...

Adult men's game, White team player dribbles past two Red defenders and takes a strong shot on goal from just outside the penalty area semi-circle, defender from Red team standing on the PK mark, sees the ball coming toward his chest fast and hard and decides to place his forearms glued to his chest in a pre-arranged motion (even before the shot was taken) to mitigate the pain on a cold day. The ball rebounded off his forearms and outside the penalty area. The defender never moved his arms, just kept them glued to his chest. I nevertheless, called a PK, since I judged that his arms to the chest was not an instinctive protective move like when trying to block a sucker punch, and he had enough time to
make another move that did not involve using his arms to protect his chest. What do you think?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Sal,
I have long held that the choice not to move the arms out of the way of the ball when the player has ample time and opportunity to do so, falls within the definition of deliberate handling. As my colleagues have alluded to, if the player clearly has the option to avoid the ball or use a different body part to play it, but instead deliberately blocks it with their hands or arms, that would make this kind of action (or inaction) an offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Sal,
While we tend to allow the pre-emptive protection in a wall being a necessary part of a FK, in general play we expect players to make their choices on how to play the ball. Afraid that getting kicked by the ball is going to hurt? Then play it a different way.
The player made the choice to use his arms to play the ball rather than his chest. That's an easy PK for me.
If it was done as a reflex AFTER the shot was taken then I may allow it, depending on grade and chance to react - but preemptively, this sounds like a foul.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Sal
That is deliberate handling for me. The player has lifted his arms to assist in playing the ball which is a penal offence punished by a direct free kick or penalty.
If he does not want to get hit by the ball then avoid it rather than using his arms. It makes no difference that if his arms were not there it would hit his chest. Penalty all day long.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Sal,
if he was in a wall ahead of the free kick and did as you describe there is no foul. In active play the deliberate movement is in fact a deliberate movement, when as you say, the ball was easily played by another body part . Unless it was an instinctive reaction from close range where a player flinches I would say the PK was correct in law. That said players are being taught to play with arms in behind the back when chesting the ball down.

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