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Question Number: 7042


RE: anything >U10

Franco of , asks...

I find handball the most controversial call as a player, fan and referee. Especially if you watch professional ball on TV...On the tube I notice about any contact with the arm by a player in the midfield is called a handball. When its in the box any touch by the attacking player is called a handball but most touches by the defending player is not a handball unless it matches 100% the LOTG. The Germany Vs USA WC match demonstrates this...We teach that a player can instinctively protect themselves in vulnerable areas, such as face and groin. I am not sure about if women are allowed to protect their breasts or not. Witness a wall and you see men hoding their privates but are women allowed to hold their breasts? How do you separate protecting yourself from handball especially if you gained or your team benefitted from that protective stance?..I see many calls on TV in slow motion that looks like the ball played the hand and not the other way, but yet everyone feels or comments that it was an obvious handball. These come from players that have tons of experience. I watch these plays and apply the FIFA laws and say "no hand ball" but the ref, a professional ref, and the ex player or professinal commentator all say it was the correct call. It did not meet the criteria set in the LOTG...What about if the ball clearly played the hand but the arm or the hand was not in a normal position. I know this sounds dumb but I am trying to demonstrate my point. Lets say a player is running at you with his arms completely extended, spread eagle, and I kick a rocket the comes up and hits his outstretched arms. This to me is a handball but the question of what played what it appears that the ball played the hand. He did not have time to react to the hard shot. Handball or not and if his position made the difference then how do you know what is normal or not?..Please help and clear these old questions up for me.

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer 12/27/2003

Handling remains a judgment call by the referee. He must determine if the handling is deliberate, if so there has been an infraction, if not play continues. The experience of a referee at the top level of the Game is well beyond the understanding of television commentators and their comments should be taken as that, alone. They cannot know what the referee is seeing or thinking with regard to any incident on the field during a match. They are there to explain the happenings to someone who has no idea what is going on. They, sometimes, can do that...The Law requires deliberate action by the player to play the ball with the hand or arm. The referee determines if what he sees is deliberate. ..Regards,

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino 12/27/2003

I tend to agree with you Franco. I strongly feel that deliberately handling the ball is the most wrongly called foul in soccer,especially at the youth level. As Ref Fleischer says, it's the opinion of the referee that counts. You ask specifically if women are allowed to protect their breasts at a wall. Absolutely and I encourage the girl's teams I referee to do this and to always protect themselves. As you rightly point out, the Laws were not written to punish players,especially children,for protecting themselves instinctively or by reflex. I sympathise with you as to what you describe on television. You watch an attacker literally get demolished by a defender inside the penalty area and no call but a few minutes later the ball caroms off a players arm and the whistle blows. I don't have any explanation for this but we all see what you see. At the youth level it oftens borders on the absurd. A player will be running AWAY from play and get hit by the ball in the back of her arm and the whistle blows. When I run a short course for our new referees, I try to instill the necessity of a player deliberately playing the ball (or,likewise,deliberately not avoiding the ball) for it to be a foul. .Yet... it's the referee on the field that must make the decision. At higher levels of play, referees expect players to be able to avoid the ball. This is true at youth levels also. I expect a U17 Classic player to be able to head or avoid a ball that a U12 rec player cannot. Players are supposed to protect themselves..Now,to your example. If a player comes at another with his hands outstretched like a basketball player's, his arms are clearly in an abnormal playing position and if struck with the ball, I'd call it. Likewise, if a player is standing in a wall with his hands above his head and the ball hits his arm, I'd call that too. How do you know what is normal or not? .After you referee a few hundred matches or so you begin to get an idea but each referee has his/her definition. Bottom line; expect handling calls to occur (or not) that you don't agree with or understand as each referee has different definitions and experience. Keep these questions coming!

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Sebalja 12/27/2003

This problem has come from a mis understanding of the law it was easy to say hand ball and explain the offence as touching the ball with your hands. They never added deliberatly to the explaination hopefully it will be called as it should be soon and the only way to do it is to do it yourself when you are on the feild and soon every one will know what to do.

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