It is an offence if a player:

  • Deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, including moving the hand/arm towards the ball.
  • Gains possession, possession/control of the ball after it has touched their hand/arm and then;

Scores in the opponent’s goal

Creates a goal-scoring opportunity

  • Scores in the opponent’s goal directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental including the goalkeeper.

It is usually an offence if a player:

  • Touches the ball with their hand/arm when;

The hand/arm has made their body unnaturally bigger

The hand/arm is above/beyond their shoulder level (unless the player deliberately

Plays the ball which then touches their hand/arm)


The above offences apply even if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close.

Except for the above offences, it is not usually an offence if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm;

Directly from the player’s own head or body (including the foot)

Directly from the head or body (including the foot) or another player who is close.

If the hand/arm is close to the body and does not make the body unnaturally  bigger

When a player falls and the hand/arm is between the body and the ground to support       the body, but not extended laterally or vertically away from the body



Greater clarity is needed for handball, especially on those occasions when ‘nondeliberate’ handball is an offence. The re-wording follows a number of principles: •football does not accept a goal being scored by a hand/arm (even if accidental) •football expects a player to be penalised for handball if they gain possession/control of the ball from their hand/arm and gain a major advantage e.g. score or create a goal-scoring opportunity • it is natural for a player to put their arm between their body and the ground for support when falling. • having the hand/arm above shoulder height is rarely a ‘natural’ position and a player is ‘taking a risk’ by having the hand/arm in that position, including when sliding • if the ball comes off the player’s body, or off another player (of either team) who is close by, onto the hand/arm it is often impossible to avoid contact with the ball.