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Question Number: 33845

High School 1/18/2020

RE: Rec High School

Jeff Kwak of Plantation, FL USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 33841

Thank you for your responses. To be clear, this is the high-school age group in a recreational league.

What I wasn't sure of was the severity of the caution given how flagrant the attempt was to disrupt the break-away play by handling the ball. The player (17-year old) did indeed receive a yellow-card.

I thought that receiving a yellow was generous (and instead warranted a sending off), given that he intentional stopped a break-away (however, not an obvious goal scoring opportunity).

Curious, did this guidance ever change? I have less than a hand-full of times (2-3) seen nearly identical plays, and the player has been issued a red card. Perhaps those times the penalty was too severe?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jeff
It is always a judgement call to assess a goal scoring opportunity
IFAB advises on the 4 Ds being present and the are
Number of Defenders available to challenge for the ball
Distance from the goal
Direction of play
Distance from the ball by the attackers
There is advice on each if the Ds so from example the further the offence is away from goal or the direction if play is away from goal or the attackers are unlikely to get to the ball before a defender the chances of a goal scoring opportunity being present is less likely.
So if say the handling was 30+ yards from goal with converging defenders the obvious goalscoring opportunity is not likely.



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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

Coach Kwak,

The following are the 2019-2020 high school rules concerning a deliberate handball:

NFHS Rule 12.8.1f6: A player shall be cautioned (Yellow Card) for a deliberate handball to stop an attack.

NFHS Rule 12.8.1f13: A player shall be cautioned (Yellow Card) for deliberately handling a ball to prevent a goal and the goal is scored.

NFHS Rule 12.8.2d4:2 A player shall be disqualified (Red Card) for deliberately handling the ball while attempting to prevent a goal and the goal is not scored.

Until three years ago a disqualification was given for a deliberate handball to prevent a goal even though the goal was scored. But now the rule is as indicated above.

If the deliberate handball that you indicated was to stop an attack rather than a goal, then the proper penalty is a caution.

I do hope that you have a successful spring season.



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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jeff,
If I understand your description (including the one in your original question), the player has deliberately handled an attempted long through ball more or less ''at source'' which does not sound like an obvious goal scoring opportunity - and you yourself say it wasn't. As described, it seems to me that it would probably fail to meet the DOGSO criteria in relation to the likelihood of the intended recipient keeping or gaining control of the ball. We don't know for sure that the ball was even going to reach the player, or whether they would have controlled it.

In this situation, a yellow card is the appropriate sanction whether under NFHS rules or IFAB laws. If this was a rec league game played under IFAB laws and not an NFHS game, then the wording that covers this would be in Law 12 which says it is a caution for unsporting behaviour if a player:

''handles the ball to interfere with or stop a promising attack''

It would only be a red card if the offence denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity, which it doesn't sound like it did, and which you say it didn't.

There has been no change in the IFAB's provisions in regard to the sanction for interfering with a promising attack, ever since the introduction of the specific mention of this kind of offence in 2007.



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