Compare the Rule and Rule Guidance with ‘practice’ of field hockey umpires as seen on the video clips.
Rule 9.11. Ball/body contact Rule
Field players must not stop, kick, propel, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body.
It is not always an offence if the ball hits the foot, hand or body of a field player. The player only commits an offence if they voluntarily use their hand, foot or body to play the ball or if they position themselves with the intention of stopping
the ball in this way.
It is not an offence if the ball hits the hand holding the stick but would otherwise have hit the stick.
Restore the word ‘intentionally’ to the Rule and alter the Rule Guidance :-
Field players must not intentionally play the ball with any part of their body.
Play should continue when there is an unintentional ball/body contact unless there has been play dangerous to the player hit or an injury sufficient to justify stoppage.
Rule 9.9. Intentionally lifted hit
Rule 9.9 Players must not intentionally raise the ball from a hit except for a shot at goal.
A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally. It is not an offence to raise the ball unintentionally from a hit, including a free hit, anywhere on the field unless it is dangerous.
(Only the Rule Guidance related to the lifting of a hit has been reproduced above).
The way in which intention to raise the ball with a hit is ‘read’ contrasts sharply with the reading of intention in the ball/body contact situation (Rule 9.11) where intentional contact seems to be assumed.
The UMB conflicts with the Rules of Hockey – the UMB advising “forget lifted, think danger “, which must mean the intention to lift the ball can also be ‘forgotten’ – while the Rules tell us that the raised hit must be judged explicitly on intention to lift the ball (and of course on danger also).
I believe the way to put this right is to abandon any attempt to read intention in the raising of the ball with a hit and then apply objective criteria to judge ‘dangerous’.
All raising of the ball directly off the stick of a striker directly into the circle should be prohibited in all phases of play. Leeway could be given for surface conditions but the ball should travel along the ground and not lift off it more than the diameter of the ball at any time.
The deflection of the ball into the opposing circle off the stick of an attacker should be restricted to knee height at any point in the flight of the ball.
In the outfield raising of the ball with a hit should be permitted but restricted in two ways. 1) Height 2) Dangerous play. As at present no ball should be raised at another player within 5m at above knee height. Hits raised towards open areas should be restricted to elbow height. Any ball hit to above elbow height should be penalised as dangerous or as time-wasting.
The ban on playing the ball into the circle from a free in the opposing 23m area should be withdrawn, the requirement to play the ball along the ground (and, as now, from a position at least 5m from the circle) together with prohibition of high deflections into the circle should provide a sufficient alternative safeguard against dangerous play.
Rule 9.12 Obstruction
Rule 9.12 Players must not obstruct an opponent who is attempting to play the ball.
Players obstruct if they :
– back into an opponent
– physically interfere with the stick or body of an opponent
– shield the ball from a legitimate tackle with their stick or any part of their body.
A stationary player receiving the ball is permitted to face in any direction.
A player with the ball is permitted to move off with it in any direction except bodily into an opponent or into a position between the ball and an opponent who is within playing distance of the ball and attempting to play it.
A player who runs in front of or blocks an opponent to stop them legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (this is third party or shadow obstruction). This also applies if an attacker runs across or blocks defenders (including the goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges) when a penalty corner is being taken.
What determines Conduct of Play in a hockey match is the Obstruction Rule together with the following three Rules.
Rule 9.3 Players must not touch, handle or interfere with other players or their sticks or clothing.
Rule 9.4 Players must not intimidate or impede another player.
Rule 9.8 Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which leads to dangerous play.
These four Rules make hockey a unique competitive team ball sport and what can be done to conserve them must be done. Unfortunately all four are ‘under attack’. There was no shortage of video clips to choose from to illustrate that the Obstruction Rule is being largely ignored and that “Ignorance is strength” because this is what “everybody” is doing.
Lest anyone have the idea that I am opposed to players turning with the ball I need to say that the freedom to turn away from an opponent, as well as the facility to receive the ball without fear of barging from behind, has been the best tactical development in hockey in the past twenty years. BUT correct timing, distance and direction are vital in turning AWAY from an opponent. Properly done such play is flowing and spectacular.
What we do not need in the game is turning INTO or across opponents and slow moving or stationary blocking of their access to the ball.
Prior to the “clarification and simplification” of the Rules in the restructured rulebook of 2004 part of the Advice to Umpires about obstruction was as follows:
Umpires should be aware of players who are in possession of the
• back into an opponent;
• turn and try to push past an opponent;
• shield the ball with body, leg or stick and stand still
when under pressure;
• drag the ball near their back foot when moving down
the side-line or along the back-line;
• shield the ball with the stick to prevent a legitimate
All simple and easy to understand instructions and I think clearer than the present rulebook on specific actions which are commonly not penalised in current hockey, despite there being no change in interpretation of this Rule announced by the FIH since 1993.
Rule 9.8 Dangerously played Ball
Players must not play the ball dangerously or in a way which leads to dangerous play.
A ball is considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players.
The penalty is awarded where the action causing the danger took place.
According to the television commentator of this 2010 World Cup game (perhaps not surprisingly, he had probably not read the Rules of Hockey) but also, astonishingly, according to the umpire, there is no such thing as a dangerous shot which is clearly at the goal.
It is a disgrace that players have to put up with this kind of nonsense and have the ignorant call them petulant for what mild protest is shown. This invention of ‘Rule’ explains the many examples of shooting by attackers that are far more dangerous than the example above (see post Dangerous Shot on goal) and cause serious injuries to defenders with no penalty imposed on those responsible; quite the contrary it is defenders who are penalised for ‘being in the way’ – even if they take or try to take evasive action to avoid injury. Following the ‘logic’ of “Clear shot at goal” (meaning “Clearly an ‘on target’ shot at the goal” rather than a ‘clear shot‘ that is with no-one but the goalkeeper between the shooter and the goal) the following clip does not show an example of a dangerously played ball – but that cannot be so, common sense forbids such a conclusion.
Could it be that the umpire in the China v Spain game misunderstood what was said in a verbal briefing? It is to be hoped that that is the case, but it seems unlikely in view of the number of other similar instances which go ‘unnoticed’. This incident, below, resulted in a corner; even though the defender is clearly within 5m of the ball when it is struck and the ball is considerably above knee height as he takes evasive action. Dangerous ‘with bells on’, evasive action and too high and too close to be other than certainly dangerous. Suicide Runner or Murderous Shooter?
There are other questions that might occur to anyone familiar with the Rules of Hockey after listening to the commentary on this clip, for example 1) “Why was an obviously unintentional foot contact penalised at all – especially when it was intentionally forced ?” (such forcing was still illegal at the time of the game in 2010) and
2) “Why would a ball propelled at a defender’s face result in a penalty stroke if it was ‘on target’ , but result in penalty against the shooter for dangerous play if not ‘on target’ ?
It is not an offence to miss the target when attempting to score a goal and the ball endangered the defender ‘on target’ or not. The second question is obviously only a more extreme example of the first one.
It is easy to see how the non-existent “obligation on a defender to defend the feet from the ball” could have ‘evolved’ out of the prohibition on intentionally playing the ball with the foot, but it should not happen, the two things are entirely different concepts. Failing to prevent an opponent forcing a foot/ball contact is not the same as intentionally playing the ball with the foot and the first is certainly not an offence.
All the facts these TV commentators have at their fingertips but they don’t know the trivia – like the Rules of the game. When one of them mis-said a player’s name someone immediately corrected him via his ear-phones, but ‘mangling’ the Rules does not seem to matter.
In the incident below, unless the raising of the ball into the tackler was considered dangerous, there was no offence by either player and play should have continued. Instead umpires are acting as if ‘gained benefit’ can still be applied to create an offence from an unintentional breach of Rule, and then compounding that by awarding the player who raised the ball the benefit of a free-pass (or in the attacked circle a penalty corner). A double standard is being applied to ‘unintentional’ – so that ball/body contact is seen as an offence, when the action that caused (or forced) it, is not. It would be understandable if this was the other was about – that is in line with the declared ‘Emphasis on safety’. The present application makes no sense at all.
Look for a foot find a foot … or any other part of the body. The principle commentator made more than a dozen references during the game to a player in possession of the ball deliberately ‘looking for’ and ‘finding’ a foot, as if this practice was a normal and acceptable part of the game. He also expected the player so hit with the ball to be penalised – brainwashing or brain washed? The guest commentator remarked the penalty was “a bit unfair” – an understatement.
22nd May 2012
Posted on an Internet forum this week by an umpire :-
Despite what some would have you believe, there are no major conflicts between the rule book, how that is interpreted by FIH umpires and how the FIH wants the game blown.
Ah but there are, that is what is wrong with hockey. To paraphrase Groucho Marx (Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?). Who are you going to believe, that umpire or your own eyes?
Link to Index of Rules http://wp.me/p3tNmd-3