handball is a fundamental rule in football. distinguishes it from many other sports and is one of the most influential in how it is played.
This article covers all aspects of the handball situation that are important to know in football. We analyze different situations, the laws of the game and some real game situations.
- 1 Is the hand a foul in football?
- 2 what is handball in soccer?
- 3 what part of the arm is the handball in soccer?
- 4 Is it a hand if it hits you in the leg first?
- 5 changes in handball rules
- 6 handball situations: when does handball occur?
- 7 situations not related to handball
- 8 Is it handball if you protect your face?
- 9 consequences of handball
- 10 red card for handball
- 11 handball yellow card
- 12 paris saint-germain (psg) vs manchester united
- 13 manchester city vs tottenham hotspur – handball goal incident
Is the hand a foul in football?
If you handle the ball in soccer, it’s a foul. a free kick or penalty kick is awarded to the opposition. the player who committed the hand may receive a yellow or red card.
what is handball in soccer?
handball is a foul whereby a player’s hand or arm touches the ball. this area of the hand/arm is from below the shoulder to the tip of the finger. it is legal to use the upper part of the shoulder to touch the ball.
However, as with many things in football, there is much more to the handball rule.
There are a number of exceptions to the rule, as well as various consequences and situations in which the rule can be adapted.
what part of the arm is the handball in soccer?
The image below shows you that you can use your upper arm – your shoulder to touch the ball without it being a foul.
It is up to the referee to decide if it is a foul if the ball hits this area.
to understand where it is in your body. if you put a line under your armpit, around your arm, it is safe for you to use it without it being considered handball.
although the shoulder area is of little use when trying to hit the ball. brave defenders will use any legal part of their body to stop the opponent.
Is it a hand if it hits you in the leg first?
If the ball is moving at a fast pace and you can’t move your arm or hand out of the way of the ball after it hits your leg, it’s not handball.
There are a couple of questions a referee thinks about before awarding a foul;
- was the hand intentional?
- did the player make the body bigger?
- was an advantage gained from the hand?
These are the fundamental laws of handball in soccer.
changes in handball rules
The handball rule has undergone several changes over the years, but its current form is the most important to consider.
In the modern era, handball has been predominantly seen as intentional or unintentional; the first being a definitive punishable infraction and the second a discretionary infraction.
- The term “intentional” creates debate by its very nature, as it is impossible to state with certainty what someone’s intentions really are.
therefore ifab (in 2019) created a list of exceptions and has given more details to the rule.
handball in the preparation of a goal
As of March 2021, if a player makes a handball in the build-up to a goal, the goal will be disallowed. the hand must be from a player who;
- gets bigger
- handball intentionally
the video assistant referee will review the goal to decide if an advantage was gained.
this comes after some controversial goals were given – here’s a video explaining the issue before this new rule;
the official judgment of the yellow card
the official ruling of the ifab (the board of the international football association) cannot be defined in a single line, there are many layers and variables. let’s take a look.
handball situations: when does handball occur?
intentional/deliberate hands are always punishable. the following handball circumstances, even if considered unintentional, are sanctioned with a free kick or penalty.
- the ball enters the goal after touching the hand or arm of an attacking player
- a player gains control or possession of the ball after it has touched his hand or the arm and then scores, creates a scoring opportunity, or gains a significant advantage
- the ball touches a player’s hand or arm, causing their body to appear abnormally larger. for example, a player extending his arm(s) widely
- the ball touches a player’s hand/arm when it is above his shoulder (unless the player has deliberately played the ball and then touches your hand/arm)
The situations below should not (normally) be awarded a penalty/free kick unless they are one of the situations in the previous section
- the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from their own body (including head, torso, foot) or the body of an opponent who is close to them
- the ball touches the hand/arm of a player that is close to their body and does not appear to have enlarged their silhouette unnaturally
- if a player falls and the ball touches their hand/arm when holding his body or breaks his fall
- if the goalkeeper touches the ball with his hand or arm outside his penalty area. if a goalkeeper touches the ball inside his penalty area when he is not allowed to do so, an indirect free kick is awarded to his opponent
note: gks cannot handle the ball in the penalty area for a deliberate throw-in or throw-in by a teammate, or for having released the ball from his hands.
There is a significant element of umpire discretion in deciding a hand or not. in recent times, the var has been making important handball decisions in football.
Is it handball if you protect your face?
If your hands are protecting your face and the ball hits your hands, it’s not handball.
If your hands weren’t in front of your face, the ball would stop when it hit your face. so he’s not getting any advantage.
be careful though, if your hands are protecting your face, your arms may be pointing out. this could be seen as an unnatural position.
so when you think the ball is going to hit you in the face, it deflects and hits your arm, so make sure you tuck your arms in against your body.
consequences of handball
Different handball offenses warrant different penalties. most handball penalties are left to the discretion of the referee. however, there are some guidelines for specific incidents.
- a hand will not be penalized if it is an instance like any of the above scenarios.
- a standard hand foul during a match is usually penalized by a free kick or penalty . awarded
- a yellow card may be given to the culprit of the hand if the foul is deemed to be more cynical or a worse offense than a standard hand. however, this is at the discretion of the referee.
- A red card per handball will be awarded if the offense prevents a clear scoring opportunity. a player can also receive a red card if he receives a second yellow card for a hand
here are some handball examples and how they are punished:
red card for handball
Luis Suarez received a straight red card for this deliberate handball that denied Ghana a goal in the 2010 World Cup.
This unbelievable incident occurred when the game was tied 1-1 in the last minute of extra time.
ghana missed the resulting penalty and was eliminated from the competition in a penalty shootout.
handball yellow card
cristiano ronaldo was judged to have touched the ball deliberately.
The referee, at his discretion, decided that he deserved a yellow card. In this case it was Ronaldo’s second yellow card and he was sent off.
The wording of the handball rules was modified in 2019, coinciding with the introduction of var.
The wording of “intentional” and “unintentional” handballs was originally used deliberately to give the on-field referee some discretion and freedom to make a correct decision on the field.
With the ability to go back and replay incidents via var, there is no longer any room for such discretion. the rule of handball has to be cut and dry.
var’s influence has led to more consistent governance of handball, but has not been without controversy.
- Introduced for the knockout stages of the champions league in 2019, var came into play on several occasions with regards to handball.
some important ties were decided by the intrusion of var in the later stages of the games. Let’s look at two examples:
paris saint-germain (psg) vs manchester united
In this case, the referee had originally awarded Manchester United a corner.
after being alerted by var, the referee checked his sideline monitor, overturned his original decision and awarded a penalty kick.
pascal kimpembe (psg) was tried for having placed his body and hands/arms in “unnatural” positions when blocking the ball, subsequently committing a foul.
In any year prior to this, the sanction would not have been applied.
manchester united scored the penalty in stoppage time, eliminating psg from the champions league due to the away goals rule.
In the video above, we heard many different opinions about the decision and the handball rule, including the professional opinion of the referee.
in the style of classic football, there is little agreement in the discussion.
manchester city vs tottenham hotspur – handball goal incident
this goal by fernando llorente of tottenham hotspur was the winning goal in the second leg of the champions league against manchester city.
The ball appears to have left his arm before hitting the back of the net.
this goal was verified and declared legitimate by var when it was judged that llorente’s arm was in a natural position.
The decision is reviewed and explained by a professional referee in the following video:
in both games, ifab changed the wording of the rule (as shown above). the penalty of the manchester united vs psg match still stands under the new wording.
However, Tottenham’s goal would not have stood if it had been scored this season. Many saw these handball decisions as unfair, harsh, or just plain wrong.
With the rule set changing to more definitive laws, the world of soccer is now witnessing a more consistent global game.
Both the players and the fans, even if they don’t agree, are getting used to what is and isn’t handball, according to the regulations.
We are in the middle of the first season in which the var and the current rule of handball are used in the global game of soccer.
Although controversy persists and debates over decisions and incidents between fans, experts and players will always be part of the game, we are beginning to see consistency with regards to handball decisions.
In the worst case, consistency in decision making is all we can ask for.
It will be interesting to see how the ifab and the major football organizations will feel after a largely experimental year regarding var and the rules of the game.
we may be ready to see more adjustments and modifications to the rule of handball and how it is refereed in the coming months and years. For more helpful guides, check out the articles below or visit our home page.
When is a penalty awarded in soccer?
A penalty is awarded in soccer when a player commits a foul in his own penalty area. this can be a tackle, a push, an elbow, a hand or any infraction ruled by the referee.
Can a goalkeeper touch the ball outside the penalty area?
not. once a goalkeeper has left his penalty area, he is operating under the same set of handball rules as any other outfield player. Interestingly, a goalkeeper was allowed to handle the ball outside the penalty area before 1912!
Can a goalkeeper receive a red card for handball?
yes. if a goalkeeper is deemed to have prevented a scoring opportunity due to a handball, he may receive a red card. they can also get a red card if they get a second yellow card for handball.
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