Handball must be deliberate

To commit a handball it has to be a deliberate act, and the ball striking Rhyan Grant’s arm when Sydney played Perth was not deliberate.

The Laws of the Game on handball have been under discussion among fans and media commentators after the Hyundai A-League match between Sydney FC and Perth Glory.

Late in the match the ball struck the arm of Sydney FC defender Rhyan Grant inside the penalty area with the score 2-1 in Sydney-s favour.

A lot of the commentary has been to the effect that the ball simply hitting the hand or arm in the penalty area is a definite penalty.

Not so. The Laws of the Game state that “handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with his hand or arm”.

Of course, it-s left to the interpretation of the referee to consider whether the act is deliberate.

The factors referees consider when judging whether it-s a deliberate handball under the Laws of the Game include:

•The movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
• The distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
• The position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an infringement

In the case of the incident yesterday, even though the ball made contact with the defender-s hand, the following characteristics were evident:

• It was ball-hit-hand and not hand-hit-ball, ie; there was no movement of the defender-s hand towards the ball.

•The ball went directly to the hand at speed from a very short distance

•The defender-s arms were in a natural position for a player jumping

The referee Peter Green was correct to judge that this was not deliberate handball and therefore the decision not to award a penalty was the correct decision.

Ben Wilson is the FFA Director of Referees