June 12, 2012

Handball situations in Netherlands - Denmark

Slovenian referee Damir Skomina was in charge of the third match at this UEFA EURO when the Netherlands were defeated by Denmark and had to cope with two handball incidents that were subjects of debate in the aftermath of the match, as they could have entailed penalty kicks which were however not awarded by Skomina. 
The respective World of Football Refereeing observer has evaluated the first occasion as a correct call made by the referee, but emphasized that the second occasion should have been ruled as an infringement, which would have meant a penalty kick to the Netherlands in the 90th minute.

First of all, one should take into account how FIFA Laws of the Game are defining a deliberate handball offence which may be punished as an infringement.

Consequently, 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"
Several instructions also pay attention to the pace with which the ball was approaching as well as the question of whether the position of the hand was natural or not. Negligence is not to be considered.

On the basis of stills, the situations should be evaluated:

First situation: Simon Poulsen touches the ball with his hand (also observed by AAR1 Vinčić, minute 28'):

It becomes clear in the first and second freeze frames that Poulsen was surprised by getting the ball in this situation, which is indicated by him having stopped quite abruptly in screenshot 2. He has the ball in his area of vicinity and turns around to immediately commence a counterattack. As part of his natural cursorial movement, he touches the ball clearly with his hand (5). Even though the ball was pretty calculable, it is still no clear intentional or deliberate act of handling the ball. In addition, the position of Poulsen's right hand is natural, so that the decision not to award a penalty kick was correct

Second situation: Jacobsen is touching the ball with his hand twice in a duel with Dutch striker Huntelaar (also observed by AAR2 Matej Jug, minute 90'):

At the beginning, Jacobsen is approaching with quite a high pace and has to stop harshly. His left hand is in a natural position (2) and does not move towards the ball. It is therefore no deliberate act, it is also adventurous to certify him intention here.
The second touch has been the result of a short distance, the ball was played with high pace. His hand position seems to be very unnatural, but could be also part of a natural procedure to hold the balance. Nonetheless, the hand has certainly no place in this height and position. Huntelaar's trial to pit against Jacobsen was interrupted by that a second time. Moreover, the hand slightly moved towards the ball. It could have been - perhaps, it even should have been penalized with a penalty kick by Slovenian official Skomina. Therefore, an at least doubtful decision, but also a doubtful situation. Benefit of the doubt.. 

pictures: UEFA


  1. I don't agree with first situation. Of course, one can say about not deliberate handball, but I think there were move hand to the ball, the ball was more or less expected. This hand was absolutely reckless infrigement in foul terminology. I am fan of giving penalty for such 'technical' mistakes by players.

  2. I don't agree with first situation. Clear movement hand to the ball, it was reckless infrigenment in foul terminology. And I am a fan of showing on the penalty spots for those situations. But, of course, I accept other opinions. Second situation really doubtful.

  3. Anonymous12/6/12 20:03

    If it's doubtful, shouldn't we leave it to the judgement of the referee and act "in doubt in favour of the referee"? I disagree with the observer's negative evaluation of Skomina in this matter.

    1. I have written that it is doubtful in my opinion. I will add something. Pascal J, one of our observers, thought in another way. As I think that the last situation is doubtful, I personally state that indeed, one can evaluate that in favour of Skomina. Finally, we are still discussing it, so one cannot really blame the referee for that.
      My wish is that UEFA finally implements something like a video or a pdf for fans, in which they explain - understandable and clear for everybody - when it is hand and when not.

    2. I have no problems accepting if any of you disagree with my evaluation. I have tried to be as objective as possible in my report, but of course in the end it is a personal opinion. Also, I would like to add that I don't blame Skomina for this decision - I would rather say he was unlucky.

      I think this is a typical case of an incident which is almost impossible to evaluate in real time – independent whether you have clear guidelines or not. I have watched the scene certainly about 20 time before coming to a definitive conclusion. I think that about says it all.

      Btw. I have also seen the match analysis of the scene on Swiss as well as Austrian TV, where the scene was evaluated by (former) FIFA referees. Both shared my view that it should have been a penalty.

  4. Yes, it is a 50-50 call. In general I also think that it is at least negligence, which is however not of interest. Is it unnatural or not? Who should evaluate that..on the one hand it is in the movement behaviour, on the other hand he could have easily avoided it. Otherwise, there was no Dutch in the immediate environment (Robben was 5 ms away), so why should he have done it with intention? Difficult, difficult..

  5. Skomina i jego 4-rej ASYSTENCI to kandydaci nr.1 do wyjazdu podobnie Węgrzy Kassai niejest najleprzy do wyjazdu nadają się także Stark i Lannoy.Jeśli ktoś się nadaje do dalszego sędziowania na tych ME to są Rizzolli, Webb Turek Ciakir, Swed Eriksson i napewno Proemcai i Chyba Szkot Thommson czyli połowa z dwónastu do domu a druga połowa sędziów może zotać

  6. Anonymous15/6/12 01:51

    Weren't there some videos posted by fifa/uefa on handball examples? Or is it just my poor memory?

    I personally think that the distance between the hand and the kicked ball was too small to move the hand away. But then again player moved the hand slightly up, away from the ball (relative to the player in crime) and not as fast as he could if he really would have intentions to move the hand away.

    Bottom line, it was very late in the game, no ref is going to call that at 90+ minutes. Kind of unwritten rule @ all sports, there's no gamechanging calls at the end.


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