Nobody knows what a handball is anymore. When talking about refereeing, whether it's in the NWSL or the Premier League or World Cup, men's or women's, I've been inclined to despair that anything constructive can be said about handballs.But I've been encouraged by the Tiki-Taka/Tactics thread, by the many good contributions to it, to think maybe there's a way to approach the handball shambles if we break it into manageable parts rather than tackle it as the one big huge mess it is. Importantly, I think we can differentiate between handball calls which are a priority to focus on and which are less so, even if they all seem important when they happen, judging from the non-stop screaming. *** What are different types of handball situations? How do we divide them up? As we go along, no doubt we'll identify more types, but we need someplace to start. the situation I call the Support-Arm Fallacy, handballs resulting from defenders going to ground in the penalty area the arms in a "natural position" in the penalty area deflections off nearby players deflections off the same player balls which hit arms held by the side or put behind the back armblocks in front of the body handballs from arms/hands knocked into path of ball by an opposing players (recent example, Arsenal vs Wolfsburg, 2nd leg Champions League semi-final) miscellaneous handballs I'm going to begin with the following tentative points as a starting hypothesis — which doesn't mean we're going to end up there, nor does it mean everyone's going to agree it's a good starting point — Questions where deflections are involved are, in general, too messy and difficult to try to solve or reach a useful and constructive consensus the Support-Arm Fallacy (as I call it) is one of the worst betrayals of the Spirit of the Game and fighting it is a high priority, as is the "natural arm position" fallacy Controversies surrounding handball appeals when a player has their arms held against their side (or put behind their back) are of a lower priority, as are controversies where a player's arm or hand gets pushed into the ball by an opponent Here's an example of the Support-Arm Fallacy, a "save" by West Ham's Tomas Soucek in West Ham vs Chelsea at 9.24 of the highlight video. This is (choose one: not/ no longer / "never") a handball A type of handball situation which I will use as an example of one of lower priority to get right is shown by the recent Women's Champions League semifinal (2nd leg) between Arsenal and Wolfsburg, where the VAR called for a penalty review when Arsenal's Wubben-Moy had her arm knocked into the path of the ball by a Wolfsburg player. As absurd as I think it is to call a penalty for this, I also think it's a lower priority to get this type of call correct. There are several reasons for this but one is simply because it happens so rarely, at least in the penalty area or in other critical moments. On-field review at 1'00 of the video highlights *** Secondary themes will emerge from a discussion of handballs. Like Who's to Blame? What's the role of the governing bodies, the referees, the players, coaches, journalists, fans? *** No doubt, the conversation will veer in various directions on various handball thingies, but hopefully we'll come back again and again to an attempt to find methodical ways of talking about handballs and the usefulness (or not) of breaking them into groups or categories.