What is a hand, really? What are arms? This controversial Hulk handball call from Brazil’s last-16 game against Chile raises lots of philosophical questions. But it looks like the ref got it right this time. In the 55th minute, the hosts had a goal disallowed after Hulk appeared to score what would have been the game-winner. Howard Webb, one of the top officials in England’s Premier League and the ref of the 2010 World Cup final, made the right call, though. As this image and video show, Hulk used the spot where his scapula connects to his arm to bring the ball down. The yellow card Hulk received might have been harsh, but the handball decision itself was the correct one.
The official FIFA rules for handball state:
“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).”
By that definition it’s a handball, as Hulk just barely moves his arm inwards in an attempt to control the ball. Referees had been criticized ahead of the second-round clash for being generous to the hosts at this tournament, notably by Chile’s star player and coach. “I am content to be playing against Brazil, but what worries me is the refereeing,” said Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez before the game.
Webb didn’t give the Brazilians any favors with controversial mistakes, unlike past referees in this tournament, or even really give them a close call that could have gone either way like Hulk’s handball.