The penalty kick awarded to Sevilla on Sunday after the ball touched the hand of Brazilian defender Eder Militao, sparked much controversy.
Regardless of the opinion of the arbitration experts who were divided over the correctness of the judgment of the referee, Juan Martínez Monoeira, what are the laws of handball? And when is hand touch a violation?
The International Federation of Football Association (FIFA) laws address the basic principles of offending a hand touch, as they state that “hand touching involves an intentional act by the player touching the ball with his hand or arm”, and the referee must observe the following:
- Hand movement toward the ball (not the ball toward the arm).
- The distance between the opponent and the hand.
- Hand position does not necessarily count as a violation.
- It is an offense to touch the ball with an object in the hand (such as clothing, shin pads etc.)
- It is an offense to hit the ball with an object (such as a shoe or a footguard).
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) also explains the rules, explaining that the upper arm is not considered a handball.
When is the violation counted according to the game rules?
- If a player deliberately touches the ball with his hand or arm, including a hand or arm movement towards the ball.
- If he scores directly with his hand or arm, even if it was an unintended movement.
- If he scores or creates an opportunity immediately after the ball touches the hand or arm of a player or teammate, even if it is accidental.
- If he touches the ball with his hand, and the position of the hand or arm makes the body larger than its natural shape (such as if his hands are open and away from his body).
- That the hand or arm is above shoulder level, unless the player deliberately plays the ball and then collides with his hand or arm.
However, it is not considered a violation:
- If the ball touches a player’s hand or arm immediately after hitting the head or body of another person playing near it.
- If the hand or arm is close to the body, and does not make the body abnormally large.
- If the hand or arm is placed between the body and the ground while the player is falling.
“Ifab” announced that cases of unintentional handball that lead to a goal or a team getting a good chance to score, will not be considered a violation as of next July.
The council responsible for enacting the laws of the popular game issued a statement, in which it also explained new rules and amendments to cases of touching the ball by hand.
IFAB also indicated that the referee should “use his judgment” regarding the position of the player’s arm or hand when the ball touched him, before he blows his whistle indicating a hand touch.
“Since the handling of handball cases was not always consistent due to the incorrect application of the law, the council members emphasized that not every touch of the ball by the player’s hand or arm is a violation,” the statement said.
One of the main controversies over handball in recent seasons has been over the condition in which arm position is considered normal or not when the ball hits it.