Rulers: handball when preparing goal is no longer automatically punishable – football


The handball rule was adopted at the general assembly of the International Football Association Boards (IFAB) changed again on Friday (March 5th, 2021).

There is now a handball in the following cases:

  • When the ball deliberately by hand or the arm is played.
  • If there is no intention: touching the ball with the arm or hand is then a punishable offense, when a player “unnaturally enlarges” his body. This is the case if the position of his arm or hand is not a result of the body movement of the player concerned or the special situation. In addition, the “unnatural enlargement” applies if the player with his posture “accepts” the hand game. This gives the referee more room for interpretation than before.
  • When a player uses his hand or arm scores a goal, the goal still does not count in any case.

The last point has so far also applied to the preparation of goals. This part has been deleted. This means that goal preparation is generally possible again in the event of an unintentional handball. “We went a step too far”said FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the subsequent press conference with a view to the changes in 2019, when the automatic criminality of handball for goals and goal preparation had been introduced. However, the definitions had meant that some decisions were received with great incomprehension by the public. The IFAB reacted to this.

At that time, they wanted to find better categories in order to create clarity, said Infantino. So now there is a slight defuse in several questions of the handball.

Rule becomes easier, “but there will be no ideal solution”

David Elleray, IFAB Technical Director and longtime referee in England, dampened hopes that the revision would resolve all handball disputes. “We will not have an ideal solution for handball. The decision will always be open to interpretation.”said Elleray.

The handball rule has been shortened significantly. Especially in the amateur field, criticism had been raised, according to which the formulation was too complicated and incomprehensible. FIFA referee Pierluigi Collina spoke of one “Simplification”. This means that the IFAB only partially complies with the request UEFA-President Aleksander Ceferin, who had called for a return to the rule that was valid until 2019.

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Rulers handball preparing goal longer automatically punishable football


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