Wondering if advantage can be applied to handling. In a recent Adult game, team ‘A’ has the ball just outside the penalty area and takes a shot on goal when a team ‘B’ defender comes running in front with ‘open arms’ in an unnatural position. The ball contacted the defender’s hands and still headed towards goal, but the hit on the ball from handling action sends the ball up over the crossbar. I delay the whistle for the handling for 2-3 seconds until after I determine that the shot is not going to enter the goal due to the handling (comment: DOGOSOH did not apply in this circumstance since there was an additional defender in the penalty area between the attacker and the keeper, who I believe could have blocked the shot had it not been deflected up). In effect, I apply advantage and since the advantage had not been realized, I call the original foul and award a DFK.
I was told after the game by our Referee Development Coordinator (a state level referee) who was at the game that you cannot apply advantage to handling. Handling either happens or it doesn’t, and I should have whistled the ball immediately or not at all. From what I have always understood, handling is an offense in law 12 and so advantage to the fouled team may be applied – also, I did not see anything on Advice to Referees on LOTG addressing this. Would you please clarify?
USSF answer (October 15, 2008):
Let’s start by correcting two false premises in your scenario:
(1) The 4 Ds apply only to infringements under sending-off offense 5 (denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or penalty kick), but NOT to infringements of sending-off offense 4 [denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)].
(2) Your state-level referee colleague is dead wrong and you are correct. Deliberately handling the ball is an infringement of Law 12. The advantage may be applied to any infringement of Law 12, provided the referee believes it to be in the best interest of good game management.
And the answer to your question: You were correct to apply the advantage, but you should have sent off the defender if his action actually did meet the requirements for sending-off offense 4. The USSF publication Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game provides all the information you need:
12.37 JUDGING AN OBVIOUS GOALSCORING OPPORTUNITY
(a) Denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball
The send-off offense for deliberate handling, number 4 under the seven send-off offenses, “denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area),” does not require any particular alignment of players for either team, but simply the occurrence of the offense under circumstances in which, in the opinion of the referee, the ball would likely have gone directly into the goal but for the handling.
Denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball would apply to any player (or substitute) other than the goalkeeper in his or her own penalty area who handles a ball to prevent it from entering the goal, even if the ball was last played by a member of the defending team. A red card for denying a goal by handling cannot be given if the attempt is unsuccessful; in other words, if the ball goes into the goal despite the illegal contact. However, the referee may caution the player for unsporting behavior before restarting with the kick-off.
The referee must remember that many fouls, including deliberately handling the ball, occur in the penalty area and could result in a penalty kick but not a sending-off.
[Note there is nothing in this section on the 4 Ds. They are covered in the next subsection, 12.37(b), which deals with sending-off offense 5.]