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When is a handball handball ? :-)

Law 12 states -

Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the
ball with the hand or arm.
The following must be considered:
• the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
• the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
• the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an offence
The goalkeeper has the same restrictions on handling the ball as any other
player outside the penalty area. Inside their penalty area, the goalkeeper
cannot be guilty of a handling offence incurring a direct free kick or any related
sanction but can be guilty of handling offences that incur an indirect free kick.


So, on that basis I concede that Pearce was unfortunate to be penalised last night.

However, surely Law 12 is ambiguous ?
If a team were defending a free kick (or defending generally), on the basis of the above.
Surely you could string 4 players across the goal, with their arms outstretched to stop the ball.
As long as you had your arms out beforehand and did not move them towards the ball, it wouldn't be a penalty ?
I must be missing something.
I suppose the ref would say a deliberate act is sufficient, even if the arm hasn't moved towards the ball ?
Discuss.

Comments

  • Law 12 states -

    Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the
    ball with the hand or arm.

    The following must be considered:
    • the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
    • the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
    • the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an offence
    The goalkeeper has the same restrictions on handling the ball as any other
    player outside the penalty area. Inside their penalty area, the goalkeeper
    cannot be guilty of a handling offence incurring a direct free kick or any related
    sanction but can be guilty of handling offences that incur an indirect free kick.


    So, on that basis I concede that Pearce was unfortunate to be penalised last night.

    However, surely Law 12 is ambiguous ?
    If a team were defending a free kick (or defending generally), on the basis of the above.
    Surely you could string 4 players across the goal, with their arms outstretched to stop the ball.
    As long as you had your arms out beforehand and did not move them towards the ball, it wouldn't be a penalty ?
    I must be missing something.
    I suppose the ref would say a deliberate act is sufficient, even if the arm hasn't moved towards the ball ?
    Discuss.

    The key statement is the bolded bit - the rest is things that must be considered.

    By spreading their arms out they are preparing for the possibility of a deliberate act - i.e. preventing a goal with the use of their hand/arm. Therefore if the ball strikes the arm/hand it is as a result of a deliberate act and consequently hand ball.
  • Well the Referee certainly didnt take the second bullet point into consideration
  • I think the law should change. It should be as simple as the 'foot' rule in Hockey. If the ball hits a players foot in the D, regardless of intent or proximity, it's a short corner.

    Football should adopt this. If it hit's a players hand in the box it's a penalty. Th would completely take any opinion out of it so we wouldn't see different decisions given depending on how a ref sees it.

    If you're covering your nads or your face and it hits your hand, then I would say that should stay as no penalty.
  • Croydon said:

    I think the law should change. It should be as simple as the 'foot' rule in Hockey. If the ball hits a players foot in the D, regardless of intent or proximity, it's a short corner.

    Football should adopt this. If it hit's a players hand in the box it's a penalty. Th would completely take any opinion out of it so we wouldn't see different decisions given depending on how a ref sees it.

    If you're covering your nads or your face and it hits your hand, then I would say that should stay as no penalty.

    I remember watching Steven Gerrard for Liverpool against Kishishev once at Anfield

    The bloke deliberately chipped the ball against his hand and turn started to appeal for a penalty, was absolutely no way he was trying to do anything other than fool the ref into giving a handball for a penalty and if they took the approach you suggest then we'd see it more often
  • The handball rule is a mess. It's a constant complaint after matches by managers and pundits that nobody knows what is a handball offence in the box, as it's so up to the referee's split second judgement, and few incidents are 100% clear cut.
  • When I reffed at junior level, I used:

    1 - was it intentional ?
    2 - did the offender gain any advantage from the handball ?

    If yes to either - I would give a FK/Pen.
  • Croydon said:

    I think the law should change. It should be as simple as the 'foot' rule in Hockey. If the ball hits a players foot in the D, regardless of intent or proximity, it's a short corner.

    Football should adopt this. If it hit's a players hand in the box it's a penalty. Th would completely take any opinion out of it so we wouldn't see different decisions given depending on how a ref sees it.

    If you're covering your nads or your face and it hits your hand, then I would say that should stay as no penalty.

    I remember watching Steven Gerrard for Liverpool against Kishishev once at Anfield

    The bloke deliberately chipped the ball against his hand and turn started to appeal for a penalty, was absolutely no way he was trying to do anything other than fool the ref into giving a handball for a penalty and if they took the approach you suggest then we'd see it more often
    Agreed. The game would consist of forwards trying to hit defenders on the arm with the ball.

    Much easier than aiming at the goal!
  • When I reffed at junior level, I used:

    1 - was it intentional ?
    2 - did the offender gain any advantage from the handball ?

    If yes to either - I would give a FK/Pen.

    I pretty much used the same rule, Phil - that's when I was young enough to keep up with play!
  • Croydon said:

    I think the law should change. It should be as simple as the 'foot' rule in Hockey. If the ball hits a players foot in the D, regardless of intent or proximity, it's a short corner.

    Football should adopt this. If it hit's a players hand in the box it's a penalty. Th would completely take any opinion out of it so we wouldn't see different decisions given depending on how a ref sees it.

    If you're covering your nads or your face and it hits your hand, then I would say that should stay as no penalty.

    I remember watching Steven Gerrard for Liverpool against Kishishev once at Anfield

    The bloke deliberately chipped the ball against his hand and turn started to appeal for a penalty, was absolutely no way he was trying to do anything other than fool the ref into giving a handball for a penalty and if they took the approach you suggest then we'd see it more often
    Agreed. The game would consist of forwards trying to hit defenders on the arm with the ball.

    Much easier than aiming at the goal!
    Some players struggle to hit a target 8 yards wide by 8 foot high (that doesn't move!) so deliberately aiming for a considerably smaller moving target might be a bit problematical.

    On a (slightly more, but not much) serious note, in recent years we've seen an escalation of "simulation" (normal speak: cheating diving fcukers) in an attempt to con the ref into awarding pens and free kicks. Heaven help us if players are now going to focus their attentions on a different form of unsportsmanlike behaviour - it'll make the game even more unwatchable than it's becoming now.
  • When I reffed at junior level, I used:

    1 - was it intentional ?
    2 - did the offender gain any advantage from the handball ?

    If yes to either - I would give a FK/Pen.

    They seem like sensible criteria. Few handballs are ever 100% intentional, hardly any handball incidents are where you see a player deliberately catching or punching a ball.

    A defender jumps in front of the attacker to block a shot, with inevitably his arms out a bit. The intention is to block the shot legally, but instead the ball hits his arm. It's not deliberate that he wanted to handle the ball, but it is deliberate that he wanted to block the shot, and that he had no real control over which bit of the body would do so, and the net result was that he gained an illegal advantage. To me that would be handball.

    Pearce last night blocked a cross from coming in, which may have given us an advantage.
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  • Basically we have been in the wrong end of a grey area.
  • edited October 3
    I have said this for some time. I think refs are not interpreting the law the way I think it was intended. It is the unnatural position bit that is unhelpful. Refs should not be trying to decide whether the position looks natural, when you are running, sliding in or simply marking you will always have points where the hand/arm could be considered to be in an unnatural position.

    Look at the Swiss penalty against Norther Ireland in the World Cup play offs. The Irish player jumped with his back to the ball and his hand was in a strange position. But in the same way as you can catch somebody out in a moment and say they are pulling a funny face! The law is confusing and could easily be simplified. Alternatively it could be changed that every time it hits an arm/hand it is handball irrespective of intent - players may try harder to avoid contact if that was the case and it would be the same for all.

    We now have a situation where some refs give a penalty that another ref wouldn't, simply by their interpretation of the same laws being different!
  • Make it like hockey, but it's an indirect free kick, not a penalty, unless it's a "professional handball", i.e. a completely unambiguous shot/cross/pass being blocked by a deliberate arm. Not sure there's that much advantage in an indirect free kick in most of the penalty area, so players wouldn't be constantly chipping into the arm of the defender, and referees would naturally ere on the side of caution, so you'd only see penalties in the clearest of cases.
  • Handball is handball when the referee says so.
    Time to move on.
  • The easy way to sort it is.
    Ball hits hand it's a penalty sorted.
  • clb74 said:

    The easy way to sort it is.
    Ball hits hand it's a penalty sorted.

    When you back to work mate
  • clb74 said:

    The easy way to sort it is.
    Ball hits hand it's a penalty sorted.

    But that's not what the Law says.

  • Oggy Red said:

    clb74 said:

    The easy way to sort it is.
    Ball hits hand it's a penalty sorted.

    But that's not what the Law says.

    Id change the law.
  • clb74 said:

    The easy way to sort it is.
    Ball hits hand it's a penalty sorted.

    When you back to work mate
    Was hoping a couple of weeks
    But with getting smacked in the stomach the other week probably start next month
  • Looking at it and considering real time and split second decision I can see why the ref has given it. Looking at the video it's a tad harsh. Grey area like I said. But the ref bottled the decison at the other end by not giving us a penalty.
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  • clb74 said:

    clb74 said:

    The easy way to sort it is.
    Ball hits hand it's a penalty sorted.

    When you back to work mate
    Was hoping a couple of weeks
    But with getting smacked in the stomach the other week probably start next month
    Sorry mate.
    It wasn't my fault.
    Elfsborg told me to do it.
  • When I reffed at junior level, I used:

    1 - was it intentional ?
    2 - did the offender gain any advantage from the handball ?

    If yes to either - I would give a FK/Pen.

    No wonder fans get upset with referees decisions if we have refs making up there own criteria. You only have to consider 1.

    2. already suggests you have decided he has offended and are just looking for any sort of advantage he may have inadvertently gained to give the penalty. Just wrong.
  • Redrobo said:

    When I reffed at junior level, I used:

    1 - was it intentional ?
    2 - did the offender gain any advantage from the handball ?

    If yes to either - I would give a FK/Pen.

    No wonder fans get upset with referees decisions if we have refs making up there own criteria. You only have to consider 1.

    2. already suggests you have decided he has offended and are just looking for any sort of advantage he may have inadvertently gained to give the penalty. Just wrong.
    The ref is the ultimate arbiter in the game.
    I was still moving FK's 10 yards for dissent, long after the "move kick" rule was abolished.

    Regarding point 2

    In the box, ball hits defender's hand unintentionally and goes out of play = corner
    In the box, ball hits defender's hand unintentionally and goes into GK's hands = penalty

    Fans will never get consistent refereeing across the sport, but I always tried my best to be consistent in the 90 minutes. The problem with the game at the top level nowadays is that attackers are trying to hit defenders on the hand inside the edge of the box away from the goal, to get a pen, and that is not in the spirit of the game IMO.
  • As @Airman Brown alluded to, the law on handball includes the word "intentional", the only offence that does carry that weighty word.
    To me the issue revolves around the interpretation of that single word. On one end of that interpration scale, you have the obvious offence, such as a defender punching the ball over the crossbar to avoid a goal being scored; we would all agree that an offence has been committed. At the other end if the scale, you have the situation whereby the ball hits a players hand, whilst that hand is by his side; most would agree that no offence has been committed.
    For the most "handball" offences between those extremes, the law makers have tried to clarify the criteria by using phrases such as: handball if the hand/ arm is in an unnatural postion, or not handball if the ball strikes the "offenders" arm when that ball has hit him from a close shot/pass.
    Further clarification is necessary, but I cant offer any solutions. The offence of handball has taken over from the offside law as the most controversible of the 17 laws.

  • Other considerations;

    is the hand/arm by the players body (no pen) or outstretched (pen, but in Pearce's example ball was too close for him to be intentionally trying to stop it).
    Was there a movement towards the ball? So in the example above, a player could have his arm by his side, but moves towards the ball - pen.
  • PeterGage said:

    As @Airman Brown alluded to, the law on handball includes the word "intentional", the only offence that does carry that weighty word.
    To me the issue revolves around the interpretation of that single word. On one end of that interpration scale, you have the obvious offence, such as a defender punching the ball over the crossbar to avoid a goal being scored; we would all agree that an offence has been committed. At the other end if the scale, you have the situation whereby the ball hits a players hand, whilst that hand is by his side; most would agree that no offence has been committed.
    For the most "handball" offences between those extremes, the law makers have tried to clarify the criteria by using phrases such as: handball if the hand/ arm is in an unnatural postion, or not handball if the ball strikes the "offenders" arm when that ball has hit him from a close shot/pass.
    Further clarification is necessary, but I cant offer any solutions. The offence of handball has taken over from the offside law as the most controversible of the 17 laws.

    I think it is enough to accept further clarification is necessary. It shouldn't be too hard to find something that - whatever it is - is clearer to players and indeed referees. If you have something that is ambiguous, it shouldn't be surprising when it is interpreted differently. Why don't refs demand further clarification?
  • edited October 4

    Other considerations;

    is the hand/arm by the players body (no pen) or outstretched (pen, but in Pearce's example ball was too close for him to be intentionally trying to stop it).
    Was there a movement towards the ball? So in the example above, a player could have his arm by his side, but moves towards the ball - pen.

    The issue is we can all see what happened, but you can have two people looking at the same incident having read the same laws and one will say it is a penalty and one won't. That suggests the laws need tightening up.

    I have always believed that the unnatural position bit was put in because the law makers wanted to help refs, but they did enough by stating deliberate and only succeeded in confusing the issue. Surely it is down to the refs judgement, If he thinks it was deliberate, penalty, if he thinks not, no penalty. Why is anything else needed other than that simple criteria?
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