Archive for January 2nd, 2020

January 2, 2020

The letter of the Law.

A ball raised towards (at) an opponent within 5m is dangerous play. Why? Because a Rule Explanation clause (Rule 9.9) states that it is. No minimum height is given and no minimum velocity is given. A very severe Rule, probably far too severe but that is the Rule.

The attacker in the first incident should have been penalised for (intentionally) raising the ball into the legs of the defender (but intention is not required for there to be a dangerous play offence; it is for a forcing offence). Yes, a forcing offence.

Unfortunately, due to sloppiness from the FIH RC, their 2011 Rule Change announcement that the Forcing Rule was deleted “because any action of this sort can be dealt with under other Rules” (a very odd reason for deleting a Rule and regrettably not the true one, which was that umpires were simply not applying it, claiming to be unable to see intent to force and preferring to penalise the easy to see and objective, ball body contact even when it did not meet the criteria for offence) was not included in subsequent rule-books as it should have been. Most umpires are now ignorant of this condition on the deletion.

It is not permitted for an umpire to ‘interpret’ what is clearly stated in Rule to be dangerous play as not dangerous simply because it does not look dangerous (especially when he should have been considering intention to take the action taken). Conversely it is not permitted for an umpire to ‘interpret’ a Rule compliant action as dangerous play. In this case a ball raised high above an opponent (when that opponent is more than 5m away) this action is not dangerous play because there is no Rule (other than raising the ball over the circle) that states it is or can be dangerous play.

Unless the penalty corner in the second incident was awarded for something not clearly seen in the video (perhaps a kick at the ball in the goalmouth) there was no reason to have awarded it.

It may seem counter intuitive to say that a ball raised about 20cms is dangerous play and one raised 2.5 meters is not, but the critical thing in an endangerment decision is whether or not the ball was raised and propelled towards or into an opposing player.

The scoop shown in the video below should have been penalised as dangerous play.

Comment received on You Tube.

Crux 11
Ehm, the rule interpretation you refer to, is for a scoop or a flick. Not for not for small lifts where the ball is below knei height. Actually, there is no height restriction for regular play of a ball to be dangerous, this is the umpires interpretation.

Crux 11
Let me state it like this. Except for the drag flick during pc there is no height restriction whatsoever. This is the umpires interpretation. However, if a ball is soft and on the shin protector, barely anyone will see that as a dangerous ball.

My reply (withdrawing nothing stated above)
I have heard that assertion before. One umpire informed me the Rule 9.9 clause applied only to flicks or scoops made towards an opponent at head height. But there is no Rule support for that assertion or for what you have called umpires’ interpretation (knee height), which contradicts what you also write “Actually, there is no height restriction for regular play of a ball to be dangerous” which is true.

Umpires are not permitted to invent interpretation from nothing, in fact they are not permitted to invent interpretations at all. The ‘knee height or above’ limit applies only during the taking of a penalty corner first hit shot and when the ball is propelled with any stroke towards an out-runner within 5m.
Here is the relevant part of the wording for open play:-.

Players are permitted to raise the ball with a flick or scoop provided it is not dangerous. A flick or scoop towards an opponent within 5 metres is considered dangerous.

(That could be improved by replacing “a flick or scoop” with “any stroke raised” and by adjusting the syntax accordingly)

There is no scope for ‘interpretation’ concerning ball height in the current wording, it is absolute, the ball must not be raised towards an opponent within 5m. (a prohibition which is far too severe as it mentions neither height or velocity, but that is not an excuse for umpires to ignore it – if umpires applied it as they should, it would probably be a very short time before the FIH RC amended it.)

It is worth noting here that up until 2004 any raising of the ball towards another player was prohibited. That prohibition not only made no reference to height or velocity it made no mention of distance either.
The development of the drag-flick together with umpires routinely ignoring what was Rule 13.3.1.d led to the FIH RC, contrary to their own emphasis on the safety of players, deleting this ridiculously severe Rule and transferring it to Rule 9.9. (why not Rule 9.8 ?) as Explanation, with the addition of a 5m distance limit.

Calls for the introduction of more height limits, for example sternum height, to describe a dangerously played ball from greater distances, which would have been a better course of action, have been studiously ignored by the FIH for more than thirty years.

We now have umpires who (want to) believe a ball raised at an  opponent from more than 5m cannot be considered dangerous play, even though legitimate evasive action is not distance limited, and others who (want to) believe that an on target shot at the goal cannot in any circumstances be considered to be dangerous play. They refer to these strange beliefs as interpretations – but interpretations of what?

I believe that including raised hits and intentionally raised deflections within the Explanation of Rule 9.9. to be acceptable (which is an interpretation not provided by the FIH RC, who are the only entity permitted to provide Rule Interpretation, so it could be dismissed out of hand) I give two reasons for my opinion.
1) The clause in is a Rule about intentionally raised hits.
2) It would be absurd to exclude raised hits and deflections but include flicks or scoops of similar velocity – common sense.

One might argue that penalising for a ball raised only about 20cms is not sensible, but this was in my view, an intentional forcing offence that should have been penalised under Rule 9.9 and therefore height (and velocity) were irrelevant.

 “because any action of this sort can be dealt with under other Rules”

One FIH Umpire argued (in an Internet hockey forum) in 2011 that “dealt with” did not mean penalise but I do not accept her argument (that no action should be taken against the forcing player in any instance of forcing), because an umpire can only legitimately deal with a breach of Rule (that is an offence) in one of three ways 1) Where possible, allow advantage to the opposing team.  2) Allow play to continue if opponents are not disadvantaged by the offence. 3) Penalise the offender. (note the order of umpire response and that allowing advantage is NOT the same thing as just allowing play to continue)

I also found her argument that the player hit with the ball should be penalised “for a lack of skill” an affront, considering the criteria for a ball body contact offence given in Rule 9.11. and the lack of skill demonstrated by players who use easy forcing tactics to ‘win’ penalty, instead of stick-work to elude and beat opponents.