An aerial ball is legally and safely lifted from midfield. The ball is falling between the circle and the dotted circle lines (2 meters/yards outside the circle). An attacker is in a 5 meter/yard clear space as the ball is falling. A defender, still inside the circle, approaches the attacker violating the 5 meter/yard aerial ball rule.
The answer is…Award a Free Hit to the attack outside the circle.
Note: This answer has been revised after consultation with the FIH Rules Committee.
FIH Rule 9.10: Players must not approach within 5 meters of an opponent receiving a falling raised ball until it has been received, controlled and is on the ground.The initial receiver has a right to the ball. If it is not clear which player is the initial receiver, the player of the team which raised the ball must allow the opponent to receive it.
NFHS Rule 8, Section 1, Article 1.g: Fouls include: Players approaching within 5 yards of an opponent receiving a falling raised ball (aerial ball) that has not been received, controlled and played to the ground.
- The initial receiver has a right to the ball.
- If it is not clear which player is the initial receiver, the player of the team which raised the ball must allow the opponent to receive it.
- An opposing player entering within the 5 yards is responsible for creating the danger.
- If an opposing player is closer than 5 yards to the receiving player, the opposing player may not move toward the receiving player until the ball is safely played and on the ground.
Guidance: In this situation, the ball is falling just outside the circle, so the 5-meter/yard area around the clear receiver extends into the circle. But, since the free hit is expected to be awarded where the ball is falling, the attack should be awarded a free hit outside the circle. Only if it is deemed that the defender intentionally came in to break down the play would this be awarded as a penalty corner. This same situation can happen as the aerial falls near to but outside the 23-meter/25-yard line. In those cases, the free hit should be awarded to the attack outside the 23-meter/25-yard line.