The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Handball Rule

Handball Rules Football Law 12

This guide explains the complexities of FIFA LAW 12 HANDBALL FOOTBALL. Handball in football refers to one of the most disputed rules in the game.

HANDBALL IN FOOTBALL: FIFA handball rule governs intentional or deliberate ball handling and accidental ball touching offences.

Determining the difference between 'handball ball' and 'ball to hand in football' is a tricky job for FA officials. They must decide whether the offence was intended or accidental.

The FA handball rules of football play their hand in almost every game of soccer around the country.

It is one of the most controversial rules of football for English Premier League referees and linesmen to handle.

So how do soccer referees differentiate between deliberate handball and accidentally handling the ball? The simple answer comes from the codified handball rules soccer players follow.

What is the Handball Rule in Football?

FIFA Laws cover football fouls and misconduct. The rules state that a free-kick or penalty will be awarded against the offending player if he or she handles the ball deliberately.

Note: *Exceptions exist for the penalty rule in football for a goalkeeper handling the ball in his own penalty area.

It may not sound like a game-changer - but it usually is! We are talking about 20 Premier League football teams here. Questionable soccer handball rules stir enraged passion and anger like no other regulations in the game.

Players, managers, and raucous soccer fans rarely dispute FIFA football handball rules in a quiet manner. A dodgy penalty decision never results in a calm and noiseless reaction from the stands.

When it happens, the match referee must make an instant decision about the offence. First of all he has to decide whether in fact the ball hit the footballer's hand or arm.

What happens if he determines that it did? He then questions if it happened because the player was in the path as the ball got played. Or, did the defender spread his arms intentionally to block the shot or the pass?

FIFA Handball Rule Football

Deliberate Handball in Football: FIFA Law 12Law 12 in the FIFA Rulebook explains the regulations and procedures for a deliberate handball in football during the game.

The simplest explanation of the football handball rule is, did the player's hand or arm, from the tips of the fingers to the shoulder, play the ball? And if so, was it done deliberately?

A ball which is first kicked and then hits a player's hand or arm is not ruled as ball handling. The referee must use judgment to decide whether the handball ball was accidental contact. Football hand ball rule governs any purposeful attempt to gain advantage such as:

Ball Handling by Goalkeepers

There is a situation in football which does not allow the goalkeeper to use their hands and often called the 'back-pass rule'.

Goalkeepers must not handle a pass that came directly from one of their teammates with their hands. Instead, the goalie must use his feet to pass it to a player or boot it forwards. An indirect kick from the point of the infraction will occur if the keeper breaches the soccer back-pass rule.

Football Handball Rules: Direct or Indirect kick?

As a rule, a direct free kick results from a contact foul or a handling misconduct. Most of the other football rules' infringements result in indirect free kicks. In soccer, a football penalty kick gets awarded if an outfield player from the defending team handles it within their own goal area.

Referees use direct and indirect kicks to restart play following an infraction. When play gets restarted, the ball must be stationary before a player kicks it. The opposing players should be at least 10 yards away from the ball.

Following football referee rules, he will hold one arm straight up in the air for an indirect free kick until it's passed to a second player. You will recognize a direct free kick because there is no arm raised in the air by the match official.

Moments of match-deciding controversy such as these are common in most games. If the referee spots a player intentionally moving his hand to the ball, the punishment is often severe and game changing. Few footballing moments and officiating decisions rouse the crowd and the teams like a disputable penalty or sending off.

Deliberate Handball in Football

Does handball in football have to be deliberate? If a player 'handles the ball deliberately' the opposing team gets a free kick or a penalty (if the offense happened inside the penalty area). The rule does not apply to a goalkeeper* handling it inside his own area.

There are extra directives reminding referees about this rule infringement. It does not normally require a caution card or dismissal for a player deliberately handling the ball. The tricky part of determining the intention rests solely with the referee.

Match referees often consult their assistants on FIFA handball rule decisions. A top class soccer referee described his interpretation of the rules. He said the decision results from whether the player's hand or arm contacts the ball in an 'unnatural' position.

In fact, he said he would try to ascertain whether the hand moved unnaturally towards the ball. Or, did it unintentionally block its path because the hand or arm was where it would naturally be for that interception.

The official's decision becomes even more challenging if the player extends or fans out his arms. Attempting to become a bigger block for the shot happens often. Raising your arms to protect yourself from a speeding ball is not normally classed as a deliberate handball. Making that instant distinction is a crucial part of good soccer refereeing.

No matter how many years of experience you have in FIFA football rules as a Premier league or International referee. There is likely to be one team and thousands of devoted fans who disagree with your decision.

Handball Rule in Soccer: FIFA Law 12