Handball law called into question again

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The VAR upholding a handball decision was the main talking point post-match at McDonald Jones Stadium. As Wellington Phoenix wanted clarification on the rules.

Brisbane Roar’s Tom Aldred attempted to clear the ball from his own penalty area in stoppage time.

They were down to 10 players and under pressure but instead of the ball travelling the desired distance, it struck the hand of teammate Riku Danzaki.

Wellington players immediately protested referee Stephen Lucas’ decision not to award the penalty. The decision was checked by VAR for about a minute before the decision was upheld.

This left Wellington coach Ufuk Talay bewildered.

After the match, Talay said the explanation he got from match officials was the incident was deemed accidental.

However, he saw the incident differently.

“For me, accidental is when his hands are beside him not up by his head,” Talay said.

“For me it’s a clear handball and a clear penalty.”

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Both Talay and Roar coach Warren Moon agreed the ruling on handballs was very confusing.

“The interpretation of the handball changes every week. So, we go off of the referee’s decision,” Talay said.

Warren Moon echoed this.

“Does anyone really know the rule anymore? Do we know what is and what isn’t,” he asked.

“The referees are there to make their decision and that was their decision. If we got on the right end of one, we’ll take it.”

The grey area surrouding the handball ruling was the proximity of the player to where the ball was kicked from. The other issue was whether the nature of the incident was accidental or not.

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Danzaki was standing about five metres away from where the ball left Aldred’s foot, giving him little time to react. However, his arm was away from his body and it gave the Japanese international an advantage, as it fell at his feet and allowed for a better clearance to be made.

Moon was asked about the incident but said he was not able to comment as he did not have a great view.

“Look I really didn’t see it. I genuinely didn’t,” he said.

“I looked at people on my bench and some said that the distance was too close. Some said maybe it was [a penalty].”

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The official ruling from the International Football Association Board states, in Law 12, certain incidents still should be deemed a handball even if the ball is kicked into a player’s arm or hand from close range.

This includes the hand making the body unnaturally bigger. However, there is an exception. It is not an offence if the ball touches a player’s hand or arm directly from the head or body of another player who is close. This is where the grey area exists.

What proximity is deemed as close? What is considered unnatural?

In the case of Danzaki, his hand has come away from his body in an effort to begin to run in the direction of the destination of Aldred’s clearance. However, this handling advantaged Danzaki and his side.

The incident yet again demonstrates a need for a clearing up of what is and what is not a handball.

For now, it is all down to the referees.

Feature Image Credit: FIFA TV

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Chris Ball
Football fanatic, supporting some, at times, hard to follow sides.

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