I’ve been pondering something that happened in one of my games last Saturday 11th August.
An under 14 girls cup match (Team A vs Team B). My team was MA and CD, both young officials. It’s always fun working with a young team because it’s easier to spark enthusiasm and the right attitude with them than it is with older officials.
The video above is relevant for the situation that was bothering me and still is a little. In the 78th minute of play (2 minutes before the end of regular time), Team B was awarded a free kick 5 yards directly in front of the penalty area of their opponents and were down 3-2. The team needed the goal/opportunity to tie and move on the penalty shoot-outs or to score another to progress.
I ensured the wall was positioned at the required distance for the free kick and moved into position to watch the activity. Upon blowing the whistle, the kicker took the free kick and some sort of contact was made by a player in the wall. I suspected it struck a hand and that it was in an unnatural position but couldn’t make a call beyond that point. The ball then deflected off an attacking player and went out for a goal kick. The kick-taker appealed for a handball but I didn’t have a good enough position to watch for the situation so I declined and continued the game.
Having spoken with my AR MA at the end of the game who was across from the free kick, he said he suspected it strike a hand but not to classify it as deliberately handling the ball because where he thought the hand was and the speed of the ball. Either way positioning was poor on my part and I felt that the player might have had her hand away from the body above waist level. It was a game-changing decision to let it go but regardless, the lesson learnt is better positioning. I think recently my focus has been on the activity of a free kick more than the wall. Can’t let that happen!
FIFA’s instruction on the video above is a penalty and a red card for deliberately handling the ball to deny an obvious goalscoring opportunity. Almost opposite calls if that is what really happened. I really hope it wasn’t.