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Question Number: 3821

Richard C. Pikesley of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom asks...

The question of handball?.Often players will call 'thats not handball it was ball to hand'!.Can you please tell me the difference between this so called 'ball to hand' handball?.As far as I'm concerned a handball is a handball unless it is purely accidental.

Answer provided by Referee ref

The LOTG speaks about _deliberately handling of the ball_. However, what is deliberately? Our different National Associations has interpreted this different for us. I the US, if a player instinctively shields him selves with the hands and the ball touches his hands, referees are instructed to let play continue. In Sweden, we are instructed to blow for a DFK (or PK). ..If the player do not deliberately handles the ball, but his arms is in an unnatural position and the ball hits the hand (or arms of course): In Sweden you are instructed to allow play to continue, in the US, one is instructed to blew for a DFK (or PK). ..I all countries, when a player deliberately handles the ball we blew for a DFK or PK and if we find him also guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct, he is booked. ..It is interesting and peculiar that different National Associations differ so much in its interpretations. When refereeing an international youth cup last week, a shot on goal was deflected by a player instinctively shielding him selves. I followed our directive and blew for a PK as well as sending the player off for professional foul (DOGSO). If a US referee had appointed to referee the match, he would blew for a corner. Moreover, we both would have been correct!..I hope our UK referee can add the British interpretations. ..Med V?nliga Fotbollsh?lsningar../Oskar

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Actually, as a US referee I have never been instructed to call handling if the arms are in an "unnatural position" as no one seems to know what this means. We are instructed in the US that if a player is instictively or reflexively protecting themselves, it cannot be considered a foul. What this means, of course, is different at different levels of play. What I have always gone by is was the ball avoidable? A U-12 rec player is going to throw their hand to their face to protect themselves whereas a U-17 Classic player might head the ball away. The LOTG were not written to punish little kids for protecting themselves and I expect them to. We are taught, basically, that if the ball plays the hand, no matter where the hand is, it's not a foul. Here's where the infamous "hands in unnatural position" comes in. If a player deliberately has his arms or hand extended (like a defending basketball player for example) and his arms are not moving and the ball hits them, this IS deliberately handling. Why? Not because his hands were in an unnatural position, but because they were DELIBERATELY put in what clearly is an unnatural position for soccer. I have heard of referees calling handling against a player running downfield AWAY from the ball when the ball strikes her in the arm because the referee felt her arms were in an unnatural position for running! How this could be considered deliberate is beyond me but it does occur. What ultimately matters is the opinion of the referee which will differ greatly amongst us. I personally think handling is called way too much at youth rec levels, but that's just my opinion.

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Answer provided by Referee ref

Hi Richard! A handball is simply: when "in the opinion of the referee..." the player's hand deliberatly handles the ball to gain advantage. If a player shields him/herself, and the hand does not move to help the ball in a particular direction, it is not a foul at ANY level, in any country. As soon as the hand helps the ball in a particular direction, usually "hand to ball" situation, it is a foul. So, for sake of brevity, people refer to "hand to ball" as a foulf and "ball to hand" as not a foul. Of course this is all "in the opinion of the ref", and thus refs will call it differently.

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Answer provided by Referee Stacy Kalstrom

HI Richard,..I would like to add my two cents worth as I often say to players "that was a ball hand not a hand ball". What I mean when I say this is that the ball played the hand and not the other way around. If I am running along and the ball comes from behind me and hits my hand or arm, no matter where it goes (to my feet and then into the net) it is a ball hand, as there was no way that I saw it coming(and could therefore not have deliberately played it), it played my hand. This is one example of ball hand, but when ever I see contact between hand/arm and ball I say to myself "handball or ball hand" and then make my call, or not...I agree wholeheartedly with my colleagues who reiterate the fact that this law was not written to punish young children with penalty kicks because they put thier hand/arm over a body part to shield themselves from the ball. Please don't call that type of an action. The laws were written to keep the game fair, it certainly isn't fair to punish a team because a child tried not to get hit in the face with the ball.

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