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Question Number: 33833

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 1/10/2020

RE: Adult

Richard Wheatley of Stondon Massey, - United Kingdom asks...

If a defender in his own penalty area inadvertently handles the ball and quite rightly no penalty is given, then with his next touch launches the ball forward where his centre forward runs onto the ball and scores will this be ruled out by VAR as a goal scoring opportunity in the same phase of play. If so how will play be restarted.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Richard,
A virtually identical question was asked by Nic of Leeds just recently, in question 33797. Our answers to that question can be found here:

In that question, the defender themselves scored with a long kick from their own penalty area. If instead of actually scoring, the defender only made a pass to a team mate, I think it is even clearer that this is not the kind of scenario that this law amendment is designed to cover.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Richard
Outlier events in games are always going to pose Law interpretation challenges.
I would concur with Referee Grove that the scenario you describe was not the intention behind the change.
IFAB explained that football does not accept a goal being scored by a hand/arm (even if accidental) and football expects a player to be penalised 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.
I think the challenges for the referee will be dealing with the no penalty decision rather than the creating of a goal scoring opportunity one.
Technically on a single kick goalscoring opportunity the law could be interpreted by penalising the accidental handling.
Maybe another way to consider this matter would it be viewed as denying a goal scoring opportunity if the kicker was fouled just before the kick? Extremely unlikely to ever be considered a red card offence.
Also in the recent Sheffield Utd v West Ham game the WH goal that was disallowed for handling in the lead up to that last minute incident would not have been picked up without VAR. So for the vast majority of referees even deciding if it was accidental handling can be a challenge.
I feel the Law need further revision to tidy up the possible outliers

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