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Question Number: 31760

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/5/2017

RE: Amateur Adult

George of Parangarecutirimicuaro, CA Sacratomato asks...

Recently, I was a CR in a tough match other referees didn't want to CR. On a particular play, Player A passes a rolling pass near the touchline to Player B who is waiting just inside the penalty area (both players are about ten yards apart and opposite side of AR). A defender slides sacrificing his body while trying to anticipate where the pass is going to arrive. As defender begins his slide, his arms go up. At the last minute, Player C intervenes by intercepting the ball and deflecting it to a Player D who is closer to the center of goal area. Defender, realizing he is no position to defend, twitches his body so he can get his forearm on the ground and spring back up into action( he had done this a couple of times before). Unfortunately, deflection by Player C ( 2 or 3 yards away from defender) was right to the spot where defender had his forearm. This whole time I am about 5 yards in front of the play and saw everything develop. I instruct players to continue play since in my opinion Player C kicked the ball into the defenders hand. In my opinion, there really wasn't much the defender could have done to avoid contact due to his compromised position. As I try to resume with play, my AR is waiving his flag like crazy. Pandemonium ensues when the majority of the attackers plea for a penalty and a red card. I went to double check with AR. Apparently he did not see the difflection. That goes for about 90 percent of the people in attendance. My AR becomes belligerent which emboldened attackers.

My question, and for those who saw the deflection, can an argument be made in favor of PK and card due to defender arms not being against his body?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI George
I ask you study this video. It is not so much where the keepers arms are but HOW they arrived there!

Laws of the Game: Handling - Presented By: Esfandiar “Esse” Baharmast

Once a defender goes to ground he risks not being able to get out of the way of the ball. These A,B,C & D I gather they are all attackers passing the ball so this defection you speak of is it not a redirect from one attacker to the other? The issue here is this compromised position? Was it not CAUSED because the defender went to ground? You should defend standing up yes?
Regardless if you indicated play on by saying accidental keep playing or something of that nature you wave the flag off and continue . The AR has no business keeping his flag up or adding fuel to the fire as you INDICATED you saw it but chose to ignore it thus the decision WAS made. The AR might disagree but that is for post game review or halftime discussion not belligerent real time mayhem.

There is always an argument when the arm and ball meet but as CR you make the decision and move forward . . Almost all other fouls have the caution for legitimate effort to win the ball inside the PA . I can not say with absolute certainty it MUST be red card unless the ball would have definitely crossed the goal line except for the handling but handling the ball deliberately is exempt from the caution reduction and most often if it is a DFK it is a red card inside the PA if it denies a goal or opportunity.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi George
The great deliberate handling debate continues. The fact that the ball deflected from short distance on to the defenders arm suggests that it could not be avoided and therefore the foul should not be called. As always it is a matter of opinion and the video provided by Referee Dawson shows just how difficult these calls are. Referee Baharmasts advice is to a limited select group and therefore his advice will not be widely disseminated. Probably intended to bring consistency to that one group. I would opine that the percentages of decisions shown in the group by raised hands would be similar to the wider refereeing community with some calling the handlings and some not, deflection or no deflection. Once you as CR decided that it was not deliberate then that is all that matters.
The real concern for me is the ARs involvement in the decision. As you had clearly seen the situation there is no need for the AR to get involved. It is in such situations that CRs advise their ARs in the pre match discussion to NOT get involved in such calls. Referees do not need an unwanted flag in such difficult circumstances when they have clearly seen that is is not a foul. Had the flag stayed down the matter would have passed with perhaps less aggro. The unwanted flag sometimes suggests that the referee got the decision wrong.
I might also suggest that the conversation between yourself and the AR should be in private with players ushered away. There is no need for the AR to be belligerent as he is there to assist not insist. Referees can do without that type of assistance.
In respect of whether deliberate handling on a deflection can be called that is a matter for the referee to decide based on the situation. A deflection can be deemed to not be an absolution from handling when clearly the situation warrants that the players arm position or movement is a deliberate act.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi George,
When it comes to handling offences, the laws says that this must ''involve[] a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm.''

This is the primary consideration. I have said this before but I sometimes think that in considering things like arm position, distance, movement, unexpected ball etc, it is possible to lose sight of the fact that these are secondary considerations and while they are indeed factors that can be used to help the referee make a judgement, the primary and overarching consideration remains - was this a deliberate act?

So to answer your question, yes an argument can be made in favour of a PK and a card based on arm position - but only if the arm position (and movement, distance, unexpected ball etc) lead to the conclusion that this was a deliberate act. Arm position alone is not the deciding factor in and of itself, it is just one of the factors to be considered, as far as the Law is concerned. The law actually specifies that, ''the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an offence''

For what it's worth, and obviously without having been there and not having seen the incident myself, your detailed description makes this sound very much like a case of accidental contact.

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