Accidental handball leading to a teammate scoring will no longer be an offence, IFAB announce 8 months ago

Accidental handball leading to a teammate scoring will no longer be an offence, IFAB announce

"Not every touch of a player's hand/arm is an offence"

The International Football Association board have announced a change to the handball rule following more VAR-induced controversy during Fulham's loss to Tottenham on Thursday night.


Fulham were cruelly denied a Josh Maja equaliser after the VAR ruled Mario Lemina had committed a handball offence as the ball struck his arm in the build up.

If you haven't seen the incident, watch this. It truly boggles the mind that anyone would think Lemina should be penalised for handball here, regardless of what the rules say. His arm is by his side.

Less than 24 hours later, IFAB have announced that handballs of this nature - accidental handballs that lead to goals - will no longer be an offence.

On the face of it this seems to be progress in the right direction. It does, however, open up a big can of worms as to what is accidental and what is intentional.


An IFAB statement read: "As the interpretation of handball incidents has not always been consistent due to incorrect applications of the law, the members confirmed that not every touch of a player’s hand/arm with the ball is an offence."

It added: "Accidental handball that leads to a team-mate scoring a goal or having a goal-scoring opportunity will no longer be considered an offence."

The FIFA website adds:

Following this clarification, it is a handball offence if a player:

  • deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball;
  • touches the ball with their hand/arm when it has made their body unnaturally bigger. A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation. By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised; or
  • scores in the opponents’ goal:
    -directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper; or
    -immediately after the ball has touched their hand/arm, even if accidental.