Hand Ball Rule

SDMama

BRONZE
I thought I had read somewhere that the updated rules for hand ball/handling (?) were going to cause more hand ball calls. But I feel like the games I’ve watched (mostly u13-u15) have more non-calls when a ball hits a player’s arm (usually between the wrist and shoulder when it is not close to the body) than in the past. Of course in some cases I may have not seen the play clearly. But for the sake of this post/question, let’s assume the ball did hit a player’s arm close to the elbow while the arm was not next to the torso. Is there something in the rules that explains why play is directed to continue?
 
A lot of the refs aren’t up to speed on the changes. I was shop talking with one ref (a really great one otherwise) a few weeks ago after a ds game where there was a non call and he wasn’t aware of the change. Others are choosing to apply the trifling standard even though the Ifab notes were clear it wasn’t supposed to apply. The online training did not have the new modifications when I renewed. I’ve basically seen it all over the place (ds ref last week was calling it/disregarding it without any rationale I could determine...3 calls including a pk for a non dog so handball and 4 noncalls).
 

watfly

GOLD
Is there something in the rules that explains why play is directed to continue?
Short answer is no. Long answer is filter through this previous thread on handball https://www.socalsoccer.com/threads/handball.588/ and if you can reconcile these explanations of the handball rule to how it is applied in reality than your way smarter than me.

Reality is that a handball foul is highly subjective. It's like art, in that a handball is in the eye of the beholder. If a panel of EPL VAR referees can't tell in 3 1/2 minutes what is a handball (see Dele Alli "handball" from this past weekend) how can mere mortals figure it out?

In the previous thread I referenced above, I posted two videos from two highly respected international refs (Baharmast and Clattenburg) regarding the ball hitting the trailing arm of sliding defender. One said that's always a handball and the other said its never a handball. Despite what a lot of referees claim there is no consensus on what constitutes a handball in actual game situations. You will see proof of that every weekend. The new rules only complicate this further.
 
I thought I had read somewhere that the updated rules for hand ball/handling (?) were going to cause more hand ball calls. But I feel like the games I’ve watched (mostly u13-u15) have more non-calls when a ball hits a player’s arm (usually between the wrist and shoulder when it is not close to the body) than in the past. Of course in some cases I may have not seen the play clearly. But for the sake of this post/question, let’s assume the ball did hit a player’s arm close to the elbow while the arm was not next to the torso. Is there something in the rules that explains why play is directed to continue?
The new handball law breaks up handling into 3 sections:
  1. What is always a handball
  2. What is usually a handball
  3. What usually isn't a handball
Under the 1st section, it says that handball is an offense if a player "deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm"
The next part of section 1 is probably the easiest to understand of all the changes, and is basically the change that says you can't score or get a goal scoring opportunity after it touches the hand/arm (deliberate or not).

IFAB has basically clarified in this break up that the primary consideration for all handball is still "was it deliberate?" at its core. This is the most important judgement that trumps all other criteria. Basically, this means that the law has not changed at all since last year at its core. Handball always was meant to be, and still is only an offense if the referee judges it to be deliberate.

So then what are sections 2 and 3 there for at all? Sections 2 and 3 exist to basically further clarify what the Law interprets as "deliberate". Before, what was deliberate was a mystery to anyone who did not take extensive training. Now, with the qualifier "usually", the Law lists out common misconceptions about what is and isn't deliberate. However, these scenarios still play 2nd fiddle to section 1, "was it deliberate".
 
I thought I had read somewhere that the updated rules for hand ball/handling (?) were going to cause more hand ball calls. But I feel like the games I’ve watched (mostly u13-u15) have more non-calls when a ball hits a player’s arm (usually between the wrist and shoulder when it is not close to the body) than in the past. Of course in some cases I may have not seen the play clearly. But for the sake of this post/question, let’s assume the ball did hit a player’s arm close to the elbow while the arm was not next to the torso. Is there something in the rules that explains why play is directed to continue?
To more directly answer your questions though. You have touched upon the 1 part of the law that is not directly addressed. Per section 2, it is usually an offense if the players arm is above the shoulder. Per section 3, it is usually not an offense if the arm is by the torso. This basically leaves a whole 90 degrees of ambiguity between the arm being against the torso and the arm being above the shoulder. I believe this is intentional, and under this ambiguity, referees should resort to the old method of determining what is deliberate: What was the speed of the ball? What was the distance from the original kick? Was is ball to hand or hand to ball?

This means that in the greater majority of cases (significantly over 50%) I think that a ball hitting the hand in that 90 degree ambiguity should NOT be called handling. In order to call it, the referee must be convinced that it was a deliberate action.
 
I thought I had read somewhere that the updated rules for hand ball/handling (?) were going to cause more hand ball calls. But I feel like the games I’ve watched (mostly u13-u15) have more non-calls when a ball hits a player’s arm (usually between the wrist and shoulder when it is not close to the body) than in the past.
Optional reading:
So where did the speculation that more hand balls would be called come from? I think this speculation was a knee jerk reaction. When people saw that it would basically be a handball every time it hit an attackers hand and every time it would hit a hand above the shoulder, they said "everything is a handball now". What further propagated this myth was a high profile VAR handball call that caught a defender hitting a ball with his hand above the shoulder and VAR called for the penalty, the controversy: The defender was not even looking in the direction where the ball was coming, he just had his hand in the air.

The 1 great thing about the new law is it got rid of the criteria "natural position". Because wth is that. There are even arguments on this forum (in particular one on the word cup) where what is natural position was debated without reconciliation. I remember even one person on this forum posting a training video that showed the proper technique to jump up high for a header and he said "see, natural position includes the arm being raised above the head temporarily." This issue of natural position has now been put to rest, hand over shoulder=handball. This black and white stamp also made people think that the law was more strict.

So why are less handballs being called? I kind of feel this even in my own games. Because now I have a much more concrete idea of what mostly IS and handball, I am way more confident in letting go what isn't specifically deemed a handball. Result: I let a lot more ball to hand go. Furthermore, with these specific laws, I feel that the information is being disseminated easier to grassroots referees, so now even they also have more confidence in not calling a handball. Whereas before, it was my biggest pet peeve that referees would just call a handball every time it hit a hand just because they were scared and/or uninformed and didn't have the confidence to not call handball when everyone and their brother would yell "HANDBALL!". It takes a lot of confidence, courage and knowledge to have been the only person in a field full 70 players, coaches and parents all thinking handball was 1 thing, and you the 1 person to disagree with all of them. And how could an average referee have had that confidence that comes from knowledge under the old ambiguous rules?
 

SageMajor

BRONZE
From our training, It looks to me that less handball calls should be made.

If a player is falling and the ball touches their hand/arm when it is between their body and the ground to support the body . In the past I would call this if a ball is kicked at/under a player and hitting the arm prevented the ball from going through.

The ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from their own head/body/foot or the head/body/foot of another player who is close/near. In the past I would call a handball as the ball was played by the player and they should not have played it into their arm. Ie a player gets a hard pass that bounces up off thier foot and hits the arm, this is no longer handling unless the arm is outstretched or it causes a goal scoring opportunity.


Another part that people miss is the goal scoring opportunity portion. This basically says that offensive players will get called much more often for handling.
The following ‘handball’ situations, even if accidental, will be a free kick:
  • The ball goes into the goal after touching an attacking player’s hand/arm
  • A player gains control/possession of the ball after it has touches their hand/arm•and then scores, or creates a goal-scoring opportunity
 

watfly

GOLD

And Gallagher said he feels that a penalty should have been given.

“I expected a penalty to be given and the reason why is this season if the hand is above the shoulder and it strikes the ball, you give a penalty," he said, speaking as part of Sky Sports' Ref Watch feature. It is above the shoulder, there is no doubt about that."
 
Optional reading:


The 1 great thing about the new law is it got rid of the criteria "natural position". Because wth is that.
Yeah, but we traded that for "unnaturally bigger". One reason it was thought there'd be more handballs (and there have been in top level competition including the WWC and Premiere League according to Tivo's count) is because it renders a lot of things which were formerly accidental now handballs.

 
The reason why the news law is a mess is because it's a compromise. There was a school of purists that believe the laws shouldn't be revised and the deliberateness standard should reign supreme still. Then there's a school of thought that's been pushing for pretty much any use of the hands to be called handball ("there's a reason the sport is called football") since the deliberate standard is subjective and varied from ref to ref. The notes that came out from the ifab deliberations seem to indicate it was a compromise....they kept the deliberate standard at its core, but made certain things bright lines (like the hand of god), and came up with this compromise standard of unnaturally bigger. But in the pro leagues, short of an event directly overseen by Fifa such as the WWC (where pretty much any hand away from the body was called a handball), basically the two referee schools of though have continued to call it the way they thought it should be called, using the ambiguity in the rules as a justification.
 

watfly

GOLD
Yeah, but we traded that for "unnaturally bigger". One reason it was thought there'd be more handballs (and there have been in top level competition including the WWC and Premiere League according to Tivo's count) is because it renders a lot of things which were formerly accidental now handballs.

And under the new rules I hardly ever hear refs use the term "unnaturally bigger", but instead I usually hear the term "outside the natural silhouette" as the justification for a handball. It's comical to claim that anything regarding a handball has been "put to rest" or is "black and white".
 
From our training, It looks to me that less handball calls should be made.

If a player is falling and the ball touches their hand/arm when it is between their body and the ground to support the body . In the past I would call this if a ball is kicked at/under a player and hitting the arm prevented the ball from going through.

The ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from their own head/body/foot or the head/body/foot of another player who is close/near. In the past I would call a handball as the ball was played by the player and they should not have played it into their arm. Ie a player gets a hard pass that bounces up off thier foot and hits the arm, this is no longer handling unless the arm is outstretched or it causes a goal scoring opportunity.


Another part that people miss is the goal scoring opportunity portion. This basically says that offensive players will get called much more often for handling.
The following ‘handball’ situations, even if accidental, will be a free kick:
  • The ball goes into the goal after touching an attacking player’s hand/arm
  • A player gains control/possession of the ball after it has touches their hand/arm•and then scores, or creates a goal-scoring opportunity
Believe it or not, I did not call any of those scenarios as handball even in 2018. That is what I meant when I mentioned "extensive training". If you spent enough time researching and going to optional trainings, then you would have seen that IFAB never wanted any of those situations called. (not blaming anyone for not knowing this, the information was very inaccessible).
You can even see this in a 2018 Press conference with Pierluigi Colina in the World Cup. Before the new laws came into effect, he still made it clear that the ball hitting the hand after a deliberate play from ones own body was not to be called. My justification when questioned: not deliberate handling. Furthermore, I would call non deliberate handling by an attacker that led to a goal, when asked what my justification was, I would say "spirit of the game". This was from Mark Clattenberg and this idea was reinforced by several other top referees that I asked or that trained people.

So from my point of view, the handling laws did not change 1 bit from last year. They are just more clear so now more people understand these scenarios.
 
And under the new rules I hardly ever hear refs use the term "unnaturally bigger", but instead I usually hear the term "outside the natural silhouette" as the justification for a handball. It's comical to claim that anything regarding a handball has been "put to rest" or is "black and white".
When I used the phrase "black and white", it was in the context of explaining people's perception that more handballs would be called. It was in no way a reference to how the laws should be interpreted.

When I used the phrase "put to rest", I was specifically referring to "natural position" being put to rest. Which it has. Natural Position was a positive criteria, which made it easy to read many positions as natural. Unnaturally bigger is the opposite negative criteria. This tiny distinction has a huge impact on the way referees think about handling.
Anyways, I never implied that the handball law was "put to rest" either.

Don't straw man put words in my mouth.
 

And Gallagher said he feels that a penalty should have been given.

“I expected a penalty to be given and the reason why is this season if the hand is above the shoulder and it strikes the ball, you give a penalty," he said, speaking as part of Sky Sports' Ref Watch feature. It is above the shoulder, there is no doubt about that."
I don't know what was said in the comms with VAR. But that ball to hand is a clear Section 2 above the shoulder criteria. However, though this is clear, it is still the referee's prerogative to not call it, because section 2 only says "usually". It might very well have been an argument that this was an unusual situation to the referee and he was leaning towards it was not deliberate, therefore not a handball.

To me, this is still pretty straightforward. There is a general guideline, but the law can't anticipate every permutation, so they say "usually" and let the referee on the field actually doing the game make the final say for what the game needs. To me, the law is still clear on what it wants.
 

watfly

GOLD
When I used the phrase "black and white", it was in the context of explaining people's perception that more handballs would be called. It was in no way a reference to how the laws should be interpreted.

When I used the phrase "put to rest", I was specifically referring to "natural position" being put to rest. Which it has. Natural Position was a positive criteria, which made it easy to read many positions as natural. Unnaturally bigger is the opposite negative criteria. This tiny distinction has a huge impact on the way referees think about handling.
Anyways, I never implied that the handball law was "put to rest" either.

Don't straw man put words in my mouth.
Ditto.

I don't know what was said in the comms with VAR. But that ball to hand is a clear Section 2 above the shoulder criteria. However, though this is clear, it is still the referee's prerogative to not call it, because section 2 only says "usually". It might very well have been an argument that this was an unusual situation to the referee and he was leaning towards it was not deliberate, therefore not a handball.

To me, this is still pretty straightforward. There is a general guideline, but the law can't anticipate every permutation, so they say "usually" and let the referee on the field actually doing the game make the final say for what the game needs. To me, the law is still clear on what it wants.
Just further evidence that fouls are highly subjective. No, none of us were privy to the conversation with VAR. However, the FA's excuse was that Alli was under pressure. (Last I checked most players are under pressure in a soccer game.)

So while something clearly meets a criteria for a foul, its the ref's prerogative not to call it? I'd buy that argument on a trifling foul or 50/50 jostling, but not with a handball in the box. The prerogative of refs in the game was instrumental in changing the likely outcome of this game. It's one thing for refs to make a mistake and change the outcome of the game, its a whole other thing for a ref to use his prerogative to overrule an obvious foul because that's "what the game needs". I don't think anyone intended for refs to have this kind of power to decide games. This is a perfect illustration of why fans, players and coaches are so frustrated with how the rules are applied.
 
So while something clearly meets a criteria for a foul, its the ref's prerogative not to call it? I'd buy that argument on a trifling foul or 50/50 jostling, but not with a handball in the box. The prerogative of refs in the game was instrumental in changing the likely outcome of this game. It's one thing for refs to make a mistake and change the outcome of the game, its a whole other thing for a ref to use his prerogative to overrule an obvious foul because that's "what the game needs". I don't think anyone intended for refs to have this kind of power to decide games. This is a perfect illustration of why fans, players and coaches are so frustrated with how the rules are applied.
It meets the criteria for a foul in the laws that begins with the word "usually". The law was never meant to be applied in a black and white fashion like that. The only law that actually matters is section 1: was it deliberate. Its only confusing to you because it would be easier to understand if it was black and white, but its not. The referee has to look at all the situations leading up to the ball hitting the hand above the head. I can personally think of several situations where I would not call a pk handball even if it hits someone's hand above their head. and all of those would be "unusual". It is my prerogative because I am the only unbiased person on the field that tries to call a fair game, and if in my opinion, a pk for a ball to hand above the head is unfair, then I won't call it.

I don't understand what is so special about handball. Everyone understands the gray area that can go into calling and not calling fouls, giving and not giving cards, etc. But everyone seems to want handball to be called like offside.

Get over it, the only reason the handball rule existed in the first place was to make soccer a game played with the feet, otherwise it would just turn into rugby. Everything else is just nitpicking because the original purpose of the law has already been met. And I'm okay with nitpicking because we need to draw fuzzy lines somewhere. I think Handling should just be a IFK unless its a DOGSO personally, but I just call it the way the law intends.
 
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