For our March meeting we were looking forward to hearing from Ray Olivier, former Football League referee who has appeared at the Madejski Stadium in that position in the past but is now Training and Development Manager for the PGMO, responsible for training Premier League referees. Unfortunately, his daughter was taken into hospital the night before the meeting so he felt he had to cry off.
At such short notice we were fortunate to have Ken Clark able to stand in with an interactive evening – How do we define handball? The law says it has to be deliberate to be an offence, so seemingly an obvious decision but one which can create the most arguments in a game. Ken split the meeting into groups to discuss and come up with their findings.
The first thing to consider was the proximity of the offending player when the ball was struck. Could he get his hand or arm out of the way of the ball? Was the movement of the hand or arm towards the ball or away from the ball to prevent handling the ball? The position of the hand does not necessarily mean an offence but consideration should be given to the hand or arm in an unusual or unnatural position. Has the player used his arms to make himself bigger although not necessarily moving his hands towards the ball but has still been struck?
Another point to consider was whether a handball required a card. It was important to recognise that not every handball should be punished by a caution. The three occasions when this was necessary was a handball to break up an attack, to attempt to score a goal or set up a goal, (Thierry Henry) or an unsuccessful attempt to stop the ball going into the goal. A successful attempt to save a goal should of course be punished by a red card as well as a penalty for denying a goal or goal scoring opportunity.
Our thanks to Ken for a stimulating evening, particularly bearing in mind the shortness of notice.