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Question Number: 35391

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/18/2024

RE: Adult

Gargy of Haifa, Israel asks...

Question about a scenario where inside the defending team's penalty area, the first defender kicked the ball in order to clear it out of the penalty area, followed closely by a second defender who attempted to do the same (clear the ball out of the penalty area) but jumped with his hands unnaturally out of his body, without any apparent intention to protect himself. The second defender missed the ball as it was already kicked by the first defender, and the ball inadvertently struck that second defender hands (which were located clearly unnaturally out of his body).
Considering these circumstances, should this situation have resulted in a penalty kick for the opposing team?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Gargy
Thanks for the question.
Handling of the ball is probably now one of the most difficult calls for referees to make.

As described I see no reason why the second defender would handle the ball in the situation you describe and it reads more like an unintentional contact on an arm which is not an offence.
It is not as if the ball was goal bound or to an opponent, kicked by an opponent or that the player was making himself bigger in an attempt to stop the ball.

It is up to the referee on the day to consider whether the player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation.
While not seeing the situation I don’t believe the player has deliberately made himself bigger with the intention of interfering unfairly with play such as preventing the ball going to an opponent or into an attacking position.

Always remember it is what the referee sees and opines that is vital. A referee could see a situation entirely differently with the second defenders action say deliberately stopping a ball going to an opponent or something else or nothing at all or for that matter miss it entirely. It was for such reasons VAR was introduced.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Gargy,
given it is still a call where IN THE OPINION OF THE REFEREE, counts for something, you must adjudicate your interpretation of the LOTG and the spirit in which those laws encapsulate, was it a PK situation for a blatant deliberate handling?

A defender who hammers a clearance ball into the hand of a second defender even if away from the body is not deliberate.

So an unusual clearance that fails and is now bouncing about, AWAY from the goal that strikes the arm of a 2nd defender I would see less chance of it as deliberate as opposed to being redirected into the goal or towards an attacker and the defender blatantly, reach out and punch or slap it away, thus clearly affecting the outcome .

For me if the ONLY reason the ball hit the arm was due to the defender kicking it so that it redirected into the 2nd player I see no foul but if the 1st player had missed and the 2nd player was guilty of the wide out arm challenging then possibly a PK .

When you are trying to recover or react there is a redistribution of your weight and are often off balanced or compromised, trying to react to a swirling or bouncing ball I often see arms flailing for balance.

Do not gift the opposing team a free crack at goal be sure it was truly earned by a deliberate action. I often say NOTHING THERE, accidental, keep it going! just to reassure those watching I did in fact see the ball contact the arm, just NOT going to call it!

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