Did you know you can use your hands in football even if you are not a goalkeeper? Isn’t that against the rules? Of course it is. But you are not using them in the way that is forbidden. You are putting them up, to gain advantage in a game. How is that done? And why do footballers put their hands up? 

Reasons Why Footballers Put their Hands Up During the Game?

Footballers put their hands up to signal or appeal to something. Mostly the hands are raised when you want to signal a foul, that the ball is out of play, or corner. Footballers often express too much emotion in their desire to win, so they raise their hands mechanically after a foul belonging to their team. The players want to show that the opposing player has committed a foul and that the ball belongs to their team. Footballers put their hands up especially when there is a lot of tension in the game or when the team is chasing the result, so this is used as a way to put some pressure on the referee. 


  • Referee Deception

Raising the hand can also be used when the aim is to deceive the referee or to show that the ball belongs to the team of player who raises his/her hand. This is most often used in situations where the referee cannot see the whole situation well, so footballers put their hands up as a method of distraction 

  • Set-Pieces

Footballers in training often practice taking set piececorner or free kick from the side. Precisely, it is a very common situation for a player to perform this before kicking the ball. With this gesture, he wants to signal certain things to his teammatesThe player signals where the ball will fall or clearly suggests to a particular player to move on it and when to move in the box area. It can also be a signal to a group of players to move into a corner-attacked space. 

  • Penalties

The most common raising of the hand and the most use of this gesture is when they think a penalty should be awarded to their teamAfterwards, it can often be noticed that several players automatically raise their hands. This method is used both when the penalty is obvious and when it is not. The players simply want the best for their team at the cost of putting pressure on the referees. This is characteristic not only for the players who are on the field, but also for those who sit on the bench for reserve players and even the coach. It is noticeable through the TV broadcast that this method was also accepted by the viewers, so often after a controversial situation, it can be seen that the audience raises their hands asking for a foul to be awarded for the team they support. 

  • Injuries

Footballers put their hands up also when they want to suggest that their player is injured and that the opponent’s action should be stopped. In this way, they suggest to the opponent to throw the ball out because their teammate is injured and needs medical assistance. Here, further actions depend on the fair play of the opponent, because in those situations, the action should definitely be stopped. It is also up to the referee to decide whether to take into account the reaction of the players and to suspend the match for a short time, so the footballer on the ground can receive the treatment he requires. 

However, in most cases, this method is not necessary because it is mostly obvious to which team the ball belongs or whether the foul should be awarded or not. In a way, this becomes a problem in football because it is simply rooted in the players’ behaviour to appeal to any situation during a football match. This method is especially noticeable in situations where a referee makes a wrong decision. Then almost the whole team puts their hands up in revolt, expressing their anger towards the referee and clearly letting him know that he made the wrong decision. Often, such reactions can lead to the referee showing a yellow or red card to the player. 

Do Footballers Put Their Hands Up to Pressure the Referee?

In some cases, raising the hand is good when it is within the limits of fair play and when the players are convinced that the ball possession belongs to their team. It would be a problem when using this method to deceive the referee. Some players are willing to do anything to get the ball and even cheat sometimes. They lose the honour of winning by not choosing the means to gain the victory.

  • Offside Calling

It seems that the introduction of VAR technology has made things much easier for the referees, because the suggestions made from the VAR room can eliminate the dilemma of whether the goal is regular, whether a penalty should be awarded or whether it was offside. Footballers putting their hands up is also often used when it comes to offside signalling. The players want to immediately point out to the referee that the opposing player is behind the last player of their defence and that the action of their team should be stopped. 

  • Card Issuing

Another situation when players raise their hands is in situations where a card needs to be awarded to an opposing player. In this way, they want to signal to the referee that the offense was so rough that a red card should be shown to the opposing player and the player sent to the locker room. The situation is the same with the showing of yellow cards. Any form of pressure on a judge can help demonstrate disciplinary action. 

  • Decision-Making

Frequent suggestions and pressure on the referee, especially when it comes to making decisions in questionable situations, can lead to a negative reaction from the opposing team. Then they also start to put pressure, the match starts to be with a lot of tension and leads to the manifestation of negative reactions. There is a conflict of players, frequent interruptions, protests and the game starts moving in the wrong direction.

This is followed by a bad reaction from the audience and the atmosphere becomes quite unfriendly. Usually, such matches are full of yellow and red cards. Coaches often express their overemphasized reactions and resentments in these situations. This is another indication that the match should take place in a normal course, that the audience enjoys it and that the raising of the hand takes place within the limits of fair play. 

Do Footballers Put Their Hands Up as a Signal to Other Players? 

The players know the action and direct and coordinate their movement accordingly. In football, this is more difficult when you are an attacking team, but this practice has become frequent when taking breaks.

When a foul is awarded near the opponent’s penalty area or when a corner is taken, most players go to the opponent’s penalty area. Players here point one or two fingers, or a specific finger signalling which player should head for the ball and where the ball will be sent. Interruptions are often one of the strongest weapons of many teams, so this practice of raising your hand is very important. In that way, what was practiced in training can be performed in a game and the opponent’s goal can be attackedEvery player knows when to start and where and how the players move during the break. 

Raising the hand is often practiced by goalkeepers when they shoot the ball from their five-pointer. The beginning of the attack is very important for each team, so the goalkeeper clearly suggests to which player the ball is directed. Usually, the striker is pointed towards the point where he/she should move and where the ball will fall, so that he can play with his head and continue the action of team. 

The Corner Kick that Did Not Involve Putting the Hands Up

Of course, many corners are performed without any raising of the performers’ hands and suggestions. One of the most famous corners in the history of football happened on May 7, 2019, in the rematch of the semi-finals of the Champions League. Barcelona came to England with a 3-0 advantage from the first match and only a few believed that Liverpool could make it up and go through to the next phase of competition. The victory here seemed an even more difficult task when it was announced that Liverpool would be deprived of the services of some of the best players in that match. However, with the goals of Divock Origi and two goals by Wijnaldum, the Reds neutralized the advantage of Barcelona and the game went into a real drama.

The climax of that drama happened in the 79th minute when a corner was awarded in favour of Liverpool. Trent Alexander Arnold found himself in the corner when a boy who was collecting balls from the side threw the ball to him. At that momentTrent wanted to leave the corner spot and let Shaqiri take the corner kick. The boy who threw the ball noticed a situation where the Barcelona players had not yet set up their defence and he shouted that to Trent. Trent looked towards the penalty area and spotted Divock Origi himself. He took a corner and the Belgian brought Liverpool fans to delirium with an easy execution. That assistance was called ingenious by many and was the culmination of that magical night at Anfield.  

Will the Action of Footballers Putting their Hands Up Stay in the Sport? 

Footballers putting their hands up during the game is an increasingly common occurrence in the world of football. In this way, the players suggest certain things to the referee. They want to make it clear that an out, corner or foul is in favour of their team. However, in addition to the obvious things that the referee himself sees; this use of the raised hand is unfortunately also used outside the boundaries of fair play. Players often do not choose the right means to make the ball belong to their team and try to cheat the referees to take the possession of the ball in an unfair manner

Corners and set pieces are practiced during training sessions, and hand gestures are part of this practice. By raising his hand, the performer makes it clear to the players in the penalty area where the ball is going and it is a signal for players to position themselves as practiced. With increasing complexity of tactics in football, this kind of non-verbal communication among players can often be the difference between winning and losing matches.