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Houston Dynamo vs New York City FC: The Hand Ball Call

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Was it the right call or the wrong call?

You might want to move your arm. It is about to touch the ball.
You might want to move your arm. It is about to touch the ball.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Call

Houston was up 1-0 over NYCFC on Saturday after a solid first half from the Dynamo. As the first half was wrapping up Raul Rodriguez was called for a handball in the box. Adam Nemec headed the ball while in the air and as Rodriguez was going up to defend it hit his arm which was ruled as in an unnatural position by the referee. David Villa took the penalty kick and scored to make 1-1. That scoreline would hold until the end of the game.

The Rule

FIFA Law of the Game Law 12 Fouls and Infringement

Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with his hand or arm.

The referee shall take into consideration

  • the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
  • the distant between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
  • position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is infringement
  • touching the ball with an object held in the hand counts as infringement
  • hitting the ball with a thrown object counts as infringement

The Debate

Was his arm in an unnatural position or not?

As Rodriguez was jumping his arms came up and came into contact with the ball as Nemec was attempted to direct the ball to the net using his head. There is no debate that it hit his arm BUT you can argue whether or not it was intentional. How much control do you have in the air when a ball is headed at you? Did he intentionally bring his arm up to deny New York City a goal scoring opportunity?