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Question Number: 33896

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/22/2020

RE: Competitive Adult

PeterBabbage of Hjorring, Denmark asks...

The law as I read it says that if a ball hits a team-mate first and deflects onto another defenders arm its not a penalty.. Taking it at its word can that mean that if a shot hits a defender first, you can stick out your arm to stop a goal and it would be no penalty?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Peter,
The bit of the current law about it not being an offence if the ball comes off a player who is close does not express things in such a black and white fashion as you suggest - it merely says that this is ''not usually'' an offence.

However - and more importantly, the very first part of the law on handling says quite definitively that:

''It is an offence if a player: deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, including moving the hand/arm towards the ball''

Then, before the section about things that are ''not usually an offence'' the law says:

''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.''

So in the example you give, the defender who sticks their arm out to deliberately block the ball has definitely committed a handling offence and the law says that this category of offence is not covered by the 'closeness' exception.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
Not the case as the second player has deliberately touched the ball with his hand/arm by moving the hand/arm towards the ball which is always an offence. The advice is to help doubtful situations where the ball hits a player and rebounds at short distance hitting an arm unintentionally either the players own arm or another player in close proximity.
Case in point was the Rojo handball in the Argentina v Nigeria game in the WC. Rojo headed the ball onto his own arm inside the penalty area which under the new advice is not considered handling. The referee on review through VAR did not give it yet it was open to interpretation that it was handling.
Referees are still looking for handling that is intentional and the advice is to assist in situations where the action is accidental, hitting the players arm unintentionally.
For me the new advice has only tidied up a few situations such as the ball hitting an attackers arm in a scoring situation, where the ball hits a players body before hitting the players arm and where the ball hits a players arm on the ground that is used to cushion a fall.
In many ways the advice except for the attacking handling situation has changed very little as there is still an opinion based call to be made. For example the arm on the ground is still handling if the hand/arm is extended laterally or vertically away from the body or in situations where the players arms are above/beyond their shoulder level.

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