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Question Number: 33876

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/10/2020

RE: Competitive Under 15

Kelly of Richmond, Bc Canada asks...

Our player cleared the ball from our 6yard box, the ball strikes our players hand about 5 yards away. There was no time to react or move. Our players arm was beside the body slightly (1-2inches) from the side of their body. A very "Natural" position. Is this a PK

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Kelly,
It has been said for a long, long time that handling offences are some of the most subjective and difficult to judge. The recent changes in the law were supposed to remove some of the subjectivity but not everyone feels that they have fully achieved that end.

In terms of the incident you describe, the parts of the law that are most applicable would probably be the following:

''It is usually an offence if a player: touches the ball with their hand/arm when:

the hand/arm has made their body unnaturally bigger

the hand/arm is above/beyond their shoulder level (unless the player deliberately plays the ball which then touches their hand/arm)
Except for the above offences, it is not usually an offence if the ball touches a player's hand/arm:
directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close''

Based on those clauses and assuming your description is accurate (as ref McHugh says, perceptions can often vary quite widely) then it doesn't sound like a handling offence should have been given.

The referee in the game of course, may have had a different perspective on it.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Kelly
As described this is not handling that should be penalised yet is that the way the referee saw it?
I spoke to a referee only yesterday about a penalty kick he did not award and he told me that one complainer after the game asked him how it could not be handling with the ball hitting the defenders raised outstretched arm which he replied that was he watching the same game as he was as the arm was at his side!
Have a look at this video
Harry Kewell later said that in his opinion it was not handling, that it was a penalty and that it was unfair for him to be sent off.
So handling continues to be a very difficult decisions for referees even with the change in handling advice as outlined by Referee Grove. I have no doubt Kewell did not intentionally intend to stop the ball with his arm and the question arises as to whether he could have avoided the ball. He is not even looking at the ball and his eyes are closed. The shot comes from some 9 yards in a split second.
Most would have no difficulty with the penalty and as handling denied a goal it had to be a red card and it still is a red card today even with changes to the DOGSO law.
As I have said many times in the past on a scale of one to ten I see very few handlings at 7/ 10 on the scale where the player moves / raises his hand / arm to intentionally move / direct the ball and a lot at 1 to 3 where the ball hits a player unintentionally through a bad bounce, comes up off a foot up to the hand which are not handlings. The difficult ones are in the grey middle area which can go either way. I would say your example might be in the grey middle area, certainly in the opinion of the referee.

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