Handball Rule Interpretation
QUESTION: Is it ‘legal’ in youth soccer for a player to cross her arms making an “X” if a ball is coming at her and she’s doing it for protection? For example, it used to be that a female player could do that and it was up to the ref to determine if the player was truly protecting herself vs. blocking a shot or pass…even in the box, it was permitted. In short, it was a ref’s discretionary call.
ANSWER: It's situational. If a player is positioning his/her hands to protect oneself PRIOR to the ball being played in their direction, then the ball is played into their hand, ‘handling’ should NOT be called. Here, the ball played the hand, the hand did not play the ball. A common situation would be when players form a wall during a free kick and they hold their hands over their groins or their arms across their chests prior to the free kick being taken.
Conversely, if a ball is kicked and a player lifts their hand to protect themselves and the hand touches the ball, then ‘handling’ could be called. Here, the hand played the ball. AGAIN, it is a situational call at the discretion of the ref.