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Question Number: 35462

Law 18 - Common Sense 4/22/2024

RE: Under 13

tony martin of Canterbury, England asks...

In children's match a defender raised both arms in defence of a head high ball and the ball struck her handsin the penalty area. Should I have awarded a penalty ?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Tony,
youth matches we cut a bit of slack in these type of incidents as there are two schools of thought! One is the skill level is not there to react properly, the other is, it could be there is no heading permitted and kids are confused as to what to do with a perfectly headable ball.

I see little reason to award a PK out of a bit of bad skill, bad luck and possibly fear.
It is a bit different if they EXTEND arms out and away or directly above their head to make themselves larger or grab and punch the ball in an away motion, in such cases if they are preventing or actually impeding the ball flight on its way INTO the goal by hands raised in defence of being struck plus that ball was not going to smash their face or hit their body so they have changed the space they occupy into a bigger area then the likely hood of a PK should definitely be considered. Whereas a ball dropping down directly on top on the head and they place their hands over the head to minimize the impact can likely be ignored!

The one aspect of deliberate handling kids use that for me is a no no is the crossed arms or elbows out across the chest where it pushes in an outward direction away from the body or they actually run into the ball using it as a rebound platform to redirect the ball down field or camp under it waiting when there was ample time to move and reset them selves to allow the ball to hit the ground or choose another way to try and deal with it. The exception might be a scared young person who closes their eyes at the last second regretting their decision to stay in the way.

I am sure the screams for handball will echo at every hand ball contact! In fact youth will often STOP playing if it happens to them no matter you did not see it as deliberate. PLUS they react to the adults and coaches screaming for the foul and again just stop even without a whistle by the referee. Remember your opinion, is the one that counts just apply the same scale of justice to each team in the same way.

I find it rare to utilize the advantage clause with youth at handing incidents. I do not call out Play On! as I ONLY do that IF there is a FOUL and I am applying advantage!
However, I often call out such phrases as NO! NOTHING there! Accidental! Not Deliberate! Keep going! To assure those watching, I did see the contact of hand to ball or ball to hand , I did not miss it, I am just NOT going to stop play for it, because I do NOT see it as a foul!


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tony
Thanks for the question.

In the modern game I see multiple handling calls made when the ball hits an arm. It attracts howls of handball and referees many times oblige with the free kick particularly when it does not matter very much. Most times it makes little difference out the field yet in penalty situations it can be a big match decision.

Many of these situations are not deliberate intentional handlings and the modern game has got obsessed with natural and unnatural positions of the arm. At the weekend there was three handballs penalty situation involving Young of Everton, Grealish of Man City and Wan Bissaka of Man Utd. One penalty given in the Utd game and the other two ignored. To my way of looking at them either all three should have been given or none.
Now players, managers complain that they don't know what is going to be given and it depends on the referees’ attitude to handling on the day.

Now in your situation there will be the same lack of conformity among referees. Some will give it, some won’t. Some will see it as a young underage player afraid of the ball and a natural protection reaction. Others will see it as the consequences of going to the ball requiring a raised arm.

For me a player turning away to avoid the ball with an arm raised as a natural reaction should not be penalised.
However a player that knowingly uses raised arms to go to charge down a ball should be penalised. Two very different situations

I recall doing a Women's game a number of seasons ago and late on a substitute came on. She was inside the penalty area when a high looping cross came in. She was on her own and at the last minute she took fear of the high ball, turned away, raised her arms to protect her head with the ball then hitting her arm. Cue shouts of handball. I did not give it. Another referee could have given it. I just shouted Not Deliberate and that was the end of it.
Yes one can opine that she saw it coming from a distance, yes she had time and opportunity to avoid it so an argument can be made to give the penalty yet how it transpired was not deliberate and intentional which is why I did not give it.

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