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FROM THE MIDDLE: Repealed handball laws make a return

Although it sometimes seems that last season hasn’t finished, here we are with a new football season underway.

One I think that has the benefit of calming down after more than 100 changes to the laws of the Game in the last three seasons.

There is one important change, however, that is a repeal of some changes introduced in the last two years.

A step back not a climb down, says FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

I am, of course, talking about handball.

I covered this in March when the change was announced, but for local football it is only now that
it has come into operation.

Let’s look at what happened in the first place. Handball is one of the most contentious laws in the game, simply because it is subjective, based on the referee’s opinion.

Was it intentional or accidental?

The International FA Board, guardians of the laws of the game. were asked to come up with some more definitive answers.

Unfortunately, these created even more confusion, so almost everything has reverted to the previous understandings.

Handball is now penalised only if it is intentional with one exception.

This is, if the ball goes off an attackers hand or arm directly into the goal or the attacker scores immediately after handling the ball.

However, it is not an offence if the ball rebounds accidentally off an attacker’s hand or arm to a team mate who scores. That goal would be allowed.

Handball is an offence if a player deliberately touches the ball with hand or arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball or touching the ball with the hand or arm when their position makes their body unnaturally large.

This may be holding their arms out wide at their side when facing an opponent with the ball.

Another example might be players jumping with arms held high at a defensive wall.

In other words, having the hand/arm in any position not justified by the action they are taking or situation that they are in.

And that as it’s always been, is for the referee.

By Dick Sawdon Smith

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