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Question Number: 27937

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/25/2013

RE: adult Adult

Carl of phoenix, az us asks...

I was called for a foul in the penalty area, which of course resulted in a pk. Here was the.situation. I was defending in the penalty area. I was facing my goal as the.ball was.bouncing. I clear the ball to one side. As the ball was.bouncing about stomach height, I miskicked the ball and it struck my right hand which was against my chest. Ref called.a foul. I argued that it was not.deliberate, which it wasn't. The ref agreed with me, but still awarded the pk saying that my arm was in an unnatural position. For the type of kick I was attempting, the position of my arm was natural. I have looked at a ton of material to learn what the correct.interpretation, and in everything I read, the first and most important criteria is that it must be deliberate. Absent that, then the ref should not Your opinions?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Carl
Deliberate handling is one of the difficult call in the game and one that is got wrong regularly. A great deal of advice has been provided to referee to assist in making the call.
In Europe this is what referees are advised
''Although football is a game in which players constantly move their arms and hands as a natural part of their movement, it is recommended that in deciding if a player is handling the ball deliberately, it is essential to consider the following points:
# Was it a hand to ball situation or ball to hand?
# Are the player's hands or arm in a "natural" position?
# Should the player take the consequences of having his hand or arms lifted high?
# Does the player try to avoid the ball striking his hand?
# Is the player able to avoid the ball striking his hand?
# Does he use his hand or arm to intentionally touch the ball?''
Now in your situation and from your description I would say that it is not deliberate simply because you mis-kicked the ball and the timing between the kick and hitting the hand is minimal so I could not see how it could be deliberate.
The problem for referees in the game is that the contact on the arm/ hand is accompanied by a chorus of shouts for "handball" and with the hands in what would generally be a raised position I can see how these would be given.
My view is that the vast majority of contact between the ball and hand/arm is not deliberate handling. My threshold is very high and I will only go with the hand/ arm movement towards the ball and making oneself bigger through raised arms. Most other contact is met with " not deliberate" and play continues.
At the start of this video there are two appeals for deliberate handling. Both no calls are correct IMO.
Here is another one
The player uses his raised arm to charge down the ball. That is deliberate handling.
Now here is a debateable one.
Personally I don't see this as deliberate handling. The reasons IMO why it is not is because the ball bounces up off the knee towards the arm, the distance from the kick to the player and the player is half turning away. Now the only point in favour is that the player moves his hand upwards after the ball is kicked and at the Pro level that is not a good idea.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Deliberately handling the ball is the most wrongly called foul in soccer. Period. You miskicked the ball. It inadvertently hit your hand. Your hand was on your chest and not sticking out away from your body. When we refer to the hand or arm being in an unnatural position, we mean the hand or arm is unnaturaly away from the body or "making oneself bigger". If what you say is accurate (and in all fairness we don't have the referee to give his view), if anything, you made yourself smaller. As long as you did not redirect the ball with your arm, this is not deliberate. Gauging whether or not a players arms are in a 'natural' position is extremely difficult during live play. When judging if the action was deliberate I prefer to use two things primarily 1. was the action hand to ball or ball to hand? and 2. Was the ball hitting the hand (arm) avoidable. Of course, if your hand/arm is obviously in a place where the ball had to hit the hand/arm (an extreme example is standing in a wall with your hands stretched over your head), that should be called.From what you describe the action was ball to hand and the contact unavoidable.Hand on chest does not sound unnatural or an attempt to make oneself bigger. Hence,IMO, no foul.

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

There are a number of factors involved with ascertaining 'unnatural position'. Also, deliberate includes DELIBERATELY MAKING YOURSELF BIGGER - which means placing your hands in such a position as to ensure that the ball isn't going to get by you. An extreme example of this would be something like having your arms stretched away from your body as to form a 'T' shape and for which, if the ball now hits the outstretched arm/hand is included under the umbrella of having been intentionally handled. Without having seen the event in question it's difficult to determine if the position of your hands may have qualified under this criteria and, for which, even mis-kicking the ball would not remove you from the potential of being called for handling. Based on the ref's apparent explanation of 'unnatural position' it would seem this would be the case but, not having been there, this is merely speculation for your consideration. All the best,

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