So much to talk about from the CAN-USA Women’s Olympic semi-final football match. Today, we’ll take a look at the handling call that resulted in a penalty kick for USA.
First, I think it is instructional to quote from the FIFA publication “Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees.” (Unfortunately, many in the general media have quoted the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” and while that document is quite helpful, it has no bearing on an international match).
The relevant citation is found on page 115 under the subsection “Handling the ball”.
“Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with his hand or arm. The referee must take the following into consideration:
- 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”
The section goes on to describe other factors, none of which are relevant to this scenario. So, what we must determine is:
- Is the hand moving towards the ball?
- Is the ball unexpected?
Note that the “Interpretation” document makes no reference whatsoever to a players’ action to protect him/herself from injury.
With that criteria established, let’s review the frame grabs below (click to enlarge)
In my opinion, it is quite clear that the players expect the ball to come towards them, and that there is movement of hand to ball. Clearly, either of the two players could have been whistled for handling.
Referee Pedersen again makes the correct call.