“Handball Offence”–lots of new bits for 2019!

Handball Offence (new–2019)

Law 12 lists the Direct Free Kick and Indirect Free Kick offences. One of the most contentious DFK offences is when a player touches the ball with his hand or arm (or when the ball touches the players hand/arm).  In previous years’ LOTG, the offence was listed as “handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area).”  The controversy usually lies in deciding whether or not the action was “deliberate.”  Previous versions of the Law spelled out specific guidelines to help simplify the decision making process.

This June, 2019, the LOTG will be changed in a big way as far as Law 12 goes with new descriptions/guidelines of what constitutes a “Handball Offence” (the new 2019 LOTG phrase for this Law 12 DFK infringement). The earlier LOTG considerations included: was it hand to ball, distance to the ball (unexpected), and the position of the hand. These have been changed/expanded upon (greatly) in an effort to eliminate ambiguity. (Whether or not the new version simplifies things or makes them more confusing will be debated for many nights between now and the next season.)

So here is a rundown on the New Changes for 2019:

“It is an offence if a player…

  1. deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, including moving the hand/arm towards the ball
  2. gains possession/control of the ball after it has touched their hand/arm and then:
    • scores in the opponents’ goal
    • creates a ‘goal-scoring opportunity’
  3. scores in the opponents’ goal directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper”

My take on the above is this:

  1. hey, if it looks like they obviously moved their hand/arm towards the ball and touched it…it’s a foul
  2. here it gets interesting. It feels to me like there is some wiggle room here. What if they gain possession but don’t score a goal, nor a GSO?   What if they are in the middle of the field and this happens–they gain possession/control of the ball–sounds like no foul; let play continue?!  This happens a lot, the ball is played and then bounces up and into their hand/arm–its an accident, so not deliberate and let play continue. But if it leads to a goal or GSO, it’s not allowed.
  3. this feels easy–no way can a goal be scored it the ball comes off of the hand/arm. Period. Even if it is the most unintentional thing you have ever seen in your life, you cannot let the goal stand in this situation!

“It is usually an offence if a player…

  1. 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)”

My take: why say “usually” ? (This sounds like a trick question on a psych exam…)

But anyway, we need to remember that in these scenarios it’s not always an offence. Hey, if you make yourself bigger, or your arms are above your head, it’s usually going to be a foul but there are some circumstances when it’s not….  (Not sure when, though…I guess if you play/kick the ball with your foot–when your arms are above your head–and the ball somehow bounces up and hits your arm/hand above your head accidentally [insert wacky-face-emoji])

“The above offences apply even if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close.”

“Except for the above offences, it is NOT usually an offence if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm:

  1. directly from a player’s own head or body (including the foot)
  2. directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close
  3. if the hand/arm is close to the body and does not make the body unnaturally bigger
  4. when the player falls and the hand/arm is between the body and the ground to support the body, but not extended laterally or vertically away from the body”

My take on the above:

  1. this is allowing play to continue if the player plays the ball and it accidentally bounces into the hand/arm; even if in unnatural position? if made body bigger? if above shoulder?
    • We are talking a total accident and allowing play to continue.
  2. same but if it comes from another player nearby
    • We are talking another total accident and it hits the players hand/arm, allow play to continue.
  3. we should be ok with this
  4. we should be ok with this