Goal or Not: Williams and Honduras v. Ecuador

Boy, this is a tough one.

When Australian referee Ben Williams (in his first World Cup match) disallowed Honduras’ second goal by Jerry Bengston right before halftime, pandemonium reigned. Honduras would go on to lose 1-2.

Now, let’s be clear about something: This goal was not disallowed because of offside (though many on Twitter think it was). It was disallowed for handball.

I, myself, am not sure from the video that he was offside; the Ecuadoran player to the far right of the screen appears to be playing him onside when he received the ball from behind.

But it’s all academic, because the flag never went up, and indeed, the linesman sprinted up the line as if a goal had been scored. Williams himself was seen pointing to his own arm in the ensuing argument with the Honduras players. And FIFA officially has it disallowed for handball and not offside. So, that’s that.

But was it a handball?

Video is starting to trickle out; this is the best I can find for now, but I’ll add clearer if it becomes available. The angle is bad – from behind and slightly above – but not all that different than what Williams would have had.

It is extremely difficult to see on this replay, and you have to pause it and slow it down around :06 to :08. But note that both Bengston’s arms are away from his body. And if you note the trajectory of the ball towards the goal (God, I sound like a rules geek), it does appear that the ball came from Bengston’s outstretched left arm.

Now, it could have come from his chest. I say it’s about 50-50. If Williams is right, then he made a hell of a call.

Update: I had to remove the first video. Here is another, and this one is even less clear, with it appearing to bounce off his chest. However, it cuts away at the last second to show the goal so it’s very hard. This angle does appear to support the offside theory. If the Aussies had called that, there would have been no controversy.

(I’m not sure why, but the level of the video in this tournament is third-rate, especially when you’re used to the European league coverage. Bad angles. Inability to see shots. Heavy reliance on the overhead cameras. Some of these incidents have just not been covered by video. When people talk about video replay, I’ll point to this.)

Here’s another video, though not as clear:

Goal or Not: Inconclusive

What do you think? Tell us below.

Featured photo: Sydney Morning Herald




  • I think it was deliberate handling but in this case if that call is made, it must accompany a mandatory caution for attempting to score a goal with the hand.
    His approach to the ball and move forward seemed a little weird. I understand he was trying to keep his balance and steadily move forward but his hand movement at the last second seemed odd to play the ball. That was deliberate in my opinion


  • Look at the player’s reaction when Ben is giving him a yellow card and explaining what it is for. He just smiles and knows he used his arm to put the ball in.


    • I see that, but it’s hard to say why he smiled. Ben seemed like a super personable guy and he was joking with the players all night. No telling what he said that might have provoked that reaction…


  • Neither nor…it was offside, so the correct call would have been to punish for that and not for the handball. But since the offside was apparently not seen, calling the handball was the correct decision. But if the offside had been called correctly, there wouldn’t be any reason for a yellow card, since the game would have been already interrupted by the time of the handball. In any case, not giving the goal was the right decision – even if the reason was perhaps the wrong one.


  • To see full match video (situation in 45’+), go to http://www.cbc.ca/sports-content/soccer/brazil2014/video/match/1250952 . Not sure if available outside of Canada.


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