Bundesliga - The handball chaos must stop - sports

Currently, it seems arbitrary when referees and video umpires decide on hand. There are ways to create more clarity.


Comment by Martin Schneider

Football has a problem, and the problem is evolution. Because it has led to the man walking on two legs, that his two front legs were arms and hands – and above all, that you can not take off arms and hands. One is doomed to carry it around with you all the time. For this problem, the football is no suitable – sorry – handle. Currently, rule and interpretation aids are so spongy that referees can throw more or less a coin in their head in some situations. Even with the help of the video referee. That can not be a satisfying state.

There is a questionable situation almost every match day – this Saturday she took place in Stuttgart. After a cross, Mario Gomez heads the ball of Willi Orban from Leipzig to his outstretched arm. Referee Felix Zwayer got a clue from the video cellar in Cologne, looked at the scene again and decided on penalty.

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At the scene you can think through all the misery of this rule. In the year 2019 the intention is decisive. A hand play is punishable, if intention exists. The problem with it: The referee can not look in the head of a player in 2019 either. And since a hearing on the court would be less effective, the referee must recognize the intention based on the movements of the player. It is, according to official rules of the DFB, to consider the following: the movement of the hand to the ball (not the ball at hand), the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball), the position of the hand (touching the ball itself no offense yet).

The famous "enlargement of the body area" is not part of the official rules, nor is the "unnatural attitude" of the hand. Both terms come from an accompanying text, published by the DFB in 2014. In an interview, former referee Peter Gagelmann uses the sentence block "enlargement of the body area" as an indication of an intentional hand-held game, which DFB writes that an "unnatural hand gesture" is also an indication of intention.

Based on shaky evidence, the maximum penalty is imposed

And here you approach the core problem. Because, as I said, the arms are now once on the body, they are also not stuck there. The human movement anatomy provides for compensatory movements that cause the arms to be far away from the body, but that nevertheless there is no "unnatural" movement – that is contradictory to both indicators cited by the DFB. And then?

The German FIFA referee Felix Brych has recently in the football magazine 11Freunde given a remarkably candid interview. He admits that the question "What is a hand?" the most frequently asked question to him in the circle of friends and acquaintances. He said that the border is fluid and "the farther the arm is away from the body, the more it is the hand".

If this is indeed the DFB's target to its referees, then it clearly interprets the rule to the detriment of the defenders. So happened by the video referee in the game Stuttgart against Leipzig, when Orban's arm was indeed far away from the body, but the movement in any case "unnatural". So happened in the Brych-led game Gladbach against Dusseldorf, as Kaan Ayhan threw himself in a shot from Alassane Plea and got the ball to the forearm. The arm was not on the body, but to prevent the situation, Ayhan would have had to jump with her arm on her back or with her hand in her pocket. Brych says in the interview to the scene, that was a 50:50 as well as a "hell decision" – that is, almost one that you could not meet.

It could help Brych to make the decision: One could also use the lawyer and the "In dubio pro reo" principle apply – in case of doubt for the defendant, in the case of the defender. Given the comparatively very tough sentence (penalty), this principle is actually mandatory. Currently, after a shaky circumstantial situation, the maximum penalty is repeatedly imposed.

Currently, there are many indications that this principle is not being adhered to. Brych also admits that the rule interpretations adapt to the zeitgeist – video judges and super-slow motion would rub a "contacts in the box under the nose". That's why there are more penalties. Transferred to the handball rule would mean: The spectator sees the ball on the hand – so he wants a penalty, and the DFB gives him a penalty. However, that can not be the principle of rules and interpretation. Victims are currently the defenders, who ask themselves, as in the case of Orban or Ayhan, what they should actually do. Unscrew arm – as mentioned – not.

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