Although identifying deliberate handballs is a task which is surely difficult enough in itself, handballs blocking shots on goal are an even more special case as they mostly occur inside the penalty area, result in a decision in favour of or against a penalty kick which then also decides about goal or no goal, win or loss or even promotion, qualification or relegation of teams.
In last week's Champions League play-offs, three of these incidents occurred. Have a look at them and vote! The 3rd Team's assessment will be placed here by tomorrow.
Handballs mostly are grey areas so that a clear black-and-white-judgment is rarely possible in this area of refereeing. However, it is essential to be aware of the concrete "shades of grey" that apply for each individual incident.
If we, for example, say that a handball was deliberate by 60:40%, this does not really help the referee as he has to take a black-or-white decision (deliberate / undeliberate). Generalizing video clips and match situations into black and white reduces the complexity of those situations, though. Therefore, we decided to consult kind of "swarm intelligence" - you. Below please find the results of the votes given by 281 voters.
The red bar shows the part of the voters who deem the respective situation as a deliberate handball requiring a penalty kick. The green bar shows the opposite: Those percentages represent the opinion "no deliberate handball".
The blue bar shows our approximate recommendation.
Situation 1: Even though the header is made from a short distance resulting in a low reaction time for the defender, the handball must be deemed as deliberate: The hand is raised quite carelessly and rather moves towards the ball than vice versa. It makes the body bigger and thus blocks the header on goal. The hand position is neither natural nor player-typical. If we keep the only real argument against a penalty kick aside, we deem this situation as a relatively clear deliberate handball. Correct decision by the Additional Assistant Referee who saw what his teammate, the referee, could not see himself due to probably obstructed visual corridors. 74% of you agree with that.
Situation 2: This situation is much more complex. The defender throws himself into the shot on goal and clearly carts his right arm out, which is stiff. He thus makes his body bigger to block the shot. The distance is neither very short nor large.
You can argue that the defender did not see the ball at the moment of the handball, which is basically correct and could be a reason for many associations to deem this as an undeliberate handball. However, at the exact moment of the shot itself, the defender had visual contact to the player. He knew the ball would come, he was able to expect it.
Taking everything into account, the penalty kick is rather correctly awarded in our view. However, this is mainly the result of integrating UEFA's handball policy into our judgment (compare it with situation B15 in their RAP 2016.1). Merely following the Laws of the Game and the term "deliberate", you can come to a different conclusion. It has to be questioned whether deeming this as a deliberate handball is really compatible with the spirit of the game.
These doubts is well mirrored by the voting result: 52:48% in favour of "deliberate".
Situation 3: While the first two clips showed handballs that resulted from a clear and significant enlargement of the defending players' body surface, the defender here does not make himself bigger with his hand. Although the hand is not in the most natural position and rather stiff, the defender turns it away from the ball with an extremely low reaction time due to the high pace of the shot. His hand does not move towards the ball either.
For our taste, this is rather no deliberate handball and maybe even one which should be pointed out as a (comprehensible) mistake. 57% of you agree with that.
Should a yellow card been given for blocking a shot on goal? Although the new Law 12 does not explicitly say it, UEFA's guidelines and the ones of some major associations still demand yellow cards for deliberate handballs that block a shot on goal. In all three cases - as long as you deem it as deliberate - a yellow card was therefore correctly given (and in 3 one can even discuss about a red card for denying an obvious scoring opportunity / goal).