707. Ball raised towards an opponent within 5m with a flick or scoop.

According to what is given with the Explanation of Application of Rule 9.9 if a ball is raised towards an opponent within 5m with a flick or scoop that is to be considered dangerous play. If such a flick or scoop is played towards an opponent intentionally that should also be considered to be a forcing offence (forcing offences being penalised under other Rules).

The video shows three incidents in which a ball was raised with a flick into the legs of an opponent, in the second and third of these incidents it looks as if the player in possession of the ball intended to hit the legs of the defender in front of him, but intention is not necessary for there to be a breach of the Rule clause explained in Rule 9.9 as dangerous play.There is one example of a ball dangerously scooped towards an opponent; causing that opponent to take legitimate evasive action. All these offences by ball-holders were ignored by the umpires. In all but one of the cases of a flick raised into and hitting a defender who was within his circle, a penalty corner was incorrectly awarded. (The raising of the ball into an out-running defender, within 5m during a penalty corner, is a dangerous exception to the general Rule, being penalised, if the defender is hit with the ball, if the ball is kept below knee height, with the award of another penalty corner – this award is mandatory . This absurdly, is the only time a height limit is mentioned in any Rule in connection with a ball raised towards an opponent).

I take ‘with a large pinch of salt’ statements that umpires at this level are always working hard to be the best they can be, because they are not the best they could be. A competent umpire knows how and when to apply the FIH published Rules of Hockey.

Whether they are not at their best is because of ‘the nerves’ caused by an important match on a big occasion (they don’t get bigger than the last two matches of an Olympic Games) or because they are umpiring according to their habits (accepted practice / briefings) I cannot determine.

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