It's all down to the referee's interpretation...
After Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Monday night, David Moyes asked for the officials to clarify the handball rule.
"It's a situation where the referees are not sure judging what is handball and what isn't,"
According to rule 12 in the FIFA rule book “Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of player making contact with the ball with his hand or arm.
The referee shall take the following into consideration:
- The movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
- The distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
- Position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an infringement
- Touching the ball with an object held in the hand (clothing, shinguard etc.) counts as an infringement
- Hitting the ball with a thrown object (a boot, shinguard etc.) counts as an infringement"
Whenever an argument or debate crops up over the issue, a lot of people seem to cite the interpretation brought in by quite a lot of the mainstream media “Are his arms out? Are they away from his body?”
If you look at the points above, you will see that this point doesn't carry as much weight as they would like it to. But it creates another talking point so people will stay tuned in for a little longer so they hear what Messrs Neville and Carragher have to say.
In Monday night’s clash at Old Trafford there was a contentious decision when Tom Cleverley’s shot hit Frank Lampard on the arm. Let’s remember the distance, the speed and the movement Lampard made.
Did Lampard actively handle the ball? Not for me, therefore I wouldn’t have given the penalty. But maybe other people will think he did – it’s all down to interpretation and that is the only clarity Moyes needs on the issue.
An example of hands moving towards the ball, Luis Suarez against Ghana comes to mind because it was so blatant and it prevented a goal, Thierry Henry for France against Ireland got a whole nation up in arms as he controlled the ball with his hand, or even Phil Neville’s quite brilliant save from a Lucas Leiva shot in the Merseyside derby a few years back – all looked deliberate.
But there seems to be this desire from people to give handball when the action isn’t deliberate or it’s a natural movement, that if a player deliberately aims for a players arm or hand and hits then it should be an infringement.
That shouldn’t be the way it’s done but it seems that some managers, pundits and fans would like to see people remove parts of themselves so they don’t come into contact with the ball. For me, the rule has been clouded by the want to make a talking point out of it. If someone thinks it's deliberate, and someone else doesn't then that's fine - people see things differently.
But there is clarity on the issue, if the referee thinks it’s deliberate, it’s handball. Clear enough, David?
image: © Jason Gulledge