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Referees used to ignore unintentional fouls, like unintentional handballs, but it seems that with the introduction of VAR in this world cup, they're not ignoring anything.

For instance the penalty in France VS Croatia in World Cup 2018 final is an unintentional handball by Perišić. The referee had a hard time calling it, but he did.

So if a referee used VAR, is he still allowed to ignore unintentional fouls?

  • What I hear in the TV from Horacio Elizondo, the referee of the WC final in 2006, is that the handball was unintntional and thus was not a penalty. No, intentional foul is necessary. – luchonacho Jul 15 '18 at 16:05
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    From my view as a referee, a foul is a foul whether it was intentional or not and the only exception would be if you were in a natural position and attempted to avoid handling ("hand ball"). – dalearn Jul 15 '18 at 19:32
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    @dalearn - well, you'd be incorrect. Handling requires a deliberate act. It says this in Law 12, and then goes on to provide three criteria for what constitutes a deliberate act. – Reinstate Monica 2331977 Jul 16 '18 at 1:53
  • @studro I don't dispute that and most certainly Handling must be deliberate as you say but if it isn't deliberate there is no unintentional foul to ignore. If it was a foul you call it. If it wasn't (e.g. not a deliberate act in the case of Handling) there is no foul to call. – dalearn Jul 16 '18 at 16:40
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Referees refer to the same Laws of the Game no matter whether they trust VAR or their own eyes when they make decisions.

The referee called penalty because he reviewed VAR footage and decided that it was a deliberate handball.

Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct - Handling the ball states:

Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with his hand or arm. The referee must take the following into consideration:

  • the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
  • the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
  • the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an infringement [...]

The referee most likely referred to the first paragraph, as Perišić moved his hand towards the ball.

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This question is based on two false premises:

  • that an unintentional handball is a foul; and
  • that the referee, Pitana, came to the conclusion that Perisic's handling was unintentional, yet still awarded a penalty kick.

Most free-kick offences in Law 12 (i.e. fouls) do not require intent. The majority simply require carelessness, recklessness or excessive force (i.e. charging, jumping at, kicking or attempting to kick, pushing, striking or attempting to strike, tackling or challenging, or tripping or attempting to trip). Some are simply strict liability offences - that is, the manner they are carried out in is irreleveant - all that is required is that they occurred - e.g. holding and impeding.

For handling to be an offence, it requires a deliberate act. There is no such thing as an unintentional handball foul. In Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct, Section 1 - Direct Free Kick:

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

The following must be considered:

  • the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
  • the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
  • the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an offence

Using these criteria, the referee determined that Perisic moved his hand towards the ball, and therefore handled the ball deliberately. This is why the penalty kick was awarded.

I'd also like to challenge the assertion in the opening sentence of the question that referees used to ignore unintentional fouls. It is far more likely that referees were missing fouls, rather than ignoring them. Prior to the introduction of VAR, referees had a lot of difficulty getting decisions right in the penalty area at the highest levels of the game, due to quick breaks leaving them in a bad position, or players screening their vision. Now with the VAR, missed incidents are now being referred to the referee so that they can get the decision correct.

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    It's hard to contribute an answer without duplicating content present in other answers (as there's only really one right answer here). However, I feel that the other questions have glossed over some of the false premises in the question that needed to be addressed. – Reinstate Monica 2331977 Jul 16 '18 at 1:52

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