The International Football Association Council (IFAB), on its website, has explained the rule of fixing a violation when playing with a hand.
The IFAB general meeting on Friday announced that not every touch of the ball with a hand is a violation, as “the interpretation of handballs has not always been consistent due to misapplication of the rule.” When determining an “unnatural increase” in body area due to the hands, the arbiters should judge where the hand was concerning the player’s movement in a given situation.
Under these clarifications, hand play is considered an offense if a player:
- deliberately touches the ball with the hand/arm, for example, moving the hand/arm towards the ball;
- touches the ball with his hand/arm when his body has “grown unnaturally” in size. The player’s body is considered to have “grown unnaturally” in size if the player’s hand/arm’s position is not a consequence of the player’s body movement in that particular situation. Being in this position, the player runs the risk of hitting the ball with his hand and being punished; or
- he scores into the opponent’s goal: directly with his own hand, even if it is by accident; or immediately after the ball accidentally touches his hand, after which he scores into the opponent’s goal.
An accidental hit of the ball in the hand that causes a team-mate to score a goal or can score a ball will no longer be considered a violation.
Also, at the general meeting of the IFAB, other clarifications were approved for inclusion in the rules of the game for the season-2021/22, including in rule 11 (fixing the game with the hand following rule 12, according to which the arm ends at the base of the armpit, which is used in assessing whether a player is offside) and rule 12 (attempting to circumvent the rules for a goalkeeper receiving the ball on a targeted pass by a team-mate applies on goal kicks; that player will be cautioned).