April 26, 2012

About the first penalty

The Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai awarded a controversial handball penalty kick to Real Madrid in yesterday's UEFA Champions League Semifinal. David Alaba supposedly played the ball deliberately with his hand.

FIFA Laws of the Game state that "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 hands 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"
None of this criteria is fulfilled in this specific case. There is obviously no movement with the hand towards the ball, the distance is small. In addition, one cannot argue that the action of Alaba can be penalized due to an offence of negligence, as the Laws of the Game unambiguosly do not pay attention to this aspect. Hence, there is no deliberation at all.

Therefore, the penalty decision made by Viktor Kassai and probably also the Additional Assistant Referee Tamás Bognar is wrong.


  1. Italian commentators (through the man who is on the sidelines in the pitch, near the benches) said that the fourth official (Mihaly Fabian) had a conversation with the Bayern bench, since they were asking for explanations, after the awarded penalty.
    Fabian explained that Kassai whistled because Alaba was aware that by his moving, he could have touched the ball with the hand. To say it in other words, the meaning is that the player was not so careful, staying in that position, and knowing that the ball was probably ready to come thereabout. Therefore, the referee has recognized neglect in tat behavior.
    Yes, it seems a really harsh interpretation, and I have to say that I don't agree. For me, it was not a penalty, as you wrote, too.

    1. Right. The argument of the negligence is reasonable, I can understand Kassai, but the Laws do not care about carelessness. Furthermore, I do not think that Alaba was careless. One cannot really say that.

  2. Anonymous26/4/12 14:06

    Hi Suricate,

    at ORF, the Austrian public service broadcaster, former National League referee Thomas Steiner defended Viktor Kassai's decision as the sole correct one according to UEFA directives.

    Kind regards from Vienna,

    1. Then UEFA is directly going against FIFA which would not be good.

    2. I forgot to ask whether Steiner has also explained why. So where did he see deliberation?

    3. F. Taveira26/4/12 14:43

      i will send the report later today or tomorrow. And about the first penalty I agree with your post. Incorrect decision. The player falls to the ground and the movement he makes with his arm is the natural movement that any person would do in a similar situation. The ball hit the arm but that could be the head, the shoulder... so very harsh decision by the Kassai team.

  3. Also Juan Andújar Oliver - former FIFA ref said first penalty was good call. :/ Strange. Probably all see Alaba falled down accidentally and hand was in natural position in that case. I don't know anyone who wouldn't prop up by hands when is falling...

  4. I agree with you niclas - the decision was wrong in my opinion.
    I think that the reason why referees have defended their coleague is because it is their coleague and it's not absolutely clear-cut decision. that's why i think they leant to kassai's side

  5. I agree with your post Niklas. Incorrect decision. I am quite certain that the AAR 2 (Bognar) informed Kassai of the alleged violation and the penalty was given.

  6. Saturday 28/04 h 20:45
    Serie A
    Nicola Rizzoli
    Stefani - Faverani
    Paolo Tagliavento

    Starting from now, I will follow every Rizzoli appointment, could be interesting on the road to Champions League final. Probably he will be appointed always with Stefani and Faverani in the next matches, this is important also to do practice with his team.
    Now he has this match in Rome and after that he will fly, with Tagliavento and Rocchi, to Warsaw, to attend the workshop for EURO2012 referees from 30/04 until 03/05.

  7. I agree with you, that could be reasons why many refs defended him, anyway, there is of course the possibility that UEFA has perhaps certain instructions, but they should be in conformity with FIFA Laws.

    Rizzoli has one big advantage contrary to Proenca. He has two ELITE referees at the goal line, furthermore, if there were revealed categories for assistant referees, I am sure that Stefani and Faverani would join the best group. A very good team, really very good.
    Nevetheless, I would dare the thesis that Rizzoli has not his best season, that is criticism on a very high level of course, but I think last season, he was a bit more consistent. His both K.O. performances were without any doubt very good. I would like to be a fly on the wall of Nyon's UEFA rooms :)

    1. When thinking about it, that would be a nice next project, creating a ranking or a group system for assistant referees. The deep observation of them in the K.O. round and during the next EURO and CL/EL season would allow that soon.


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