Handball Rule

New Attacking Handball Law 12 Needs to Be Amended

VAR has made headlines for so many games this year for its questionable calls as well as its non-calls. A large portion of the VAR controversy is around the handball rule changes or at least the enforcement behind the changes. I took the time to read these changes myself and most made sense. One part of the new rule changes absolutely needs further review. I will review 3 disallowed goals that stood out to me, but there were plenty of examples.

Handball Law 12

“The following ‘handball’ situations, even if accidental, will be a free kick:

A player gains control/possession of the ball after it touches their hand/arm and then scores, or creates a goal-scoring opportunity.”

Declan Rice vs. Sheffield United

You may be reading the rule thinking to yourself “well that actually makes sense and is a reasonable rule.” However, once you start looking at the application of the rule you will see the problem. West Ham had a certain point at Sheffield taken away because of this rule change and application. Take a look for yourself at 2:14

As someone with deep Irish roots I do not find myself siding with Declan Rice often, but what is he supposed to do here? His arm is not in an unnatural position when Fleck heads the ball off it from point-blank range. Is he supposed to run with his arms pressed up against his sides?

Lucas Moura vs. Sheffield United

Sorry, Sheffield supporters not trying to single out your club, but just so happens two of the best examples were against your side. A more recent example was Lucas Moura falling down because he was fouled then having the ball ping off his arm into the path of Harry Kane. Take a look at 0.41

Again not unnatural to throw your arms out toward the floor when you are falling. Did I mention he was falling because he was clearly fouled? As an avid Arsenal supporter, I do not find myself siding with Spurs often, but this was a clear example of why the rule needs to be amended. Spurs ended up losing 3-1 with good cause Sheffield were the better team. However, one cannot help but wonder what if Spurs drawing level immediately after Sheffield got the opener would have changed the whole course of that match.

Aymeric Laporte vs. Tottenham

Okay, you might think I picked this one because I support Arsenal. However, I was actually at this match so it was the first example that came to my head. Gabriel Jesus’s winner was ruled out because of this rule. See for yourself at 2:35

Laporte is being pulled by Skipp so first off you can argue it was a foul and a penalty. Second, his arm is at his side and in no way in an unnatural position. Lastly, the ball hitting his arm didn’t do anything to help Jesus score that goal i.e. no major advantage was derived. This denied City a critical 2 points at the beginning of the season.

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The Premier League absolutely needs to review the handball rule again. First off, if a player is fouled causing their hand/arm to strike the ball, no handball should be given which should be obvious. Secondly, the following sections of the rule are ignored if the “handball” leads to a goal.

“The following will not usually be a free-kick unless they are one of the above
• the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from their own head/body/foot or
the head/body/foot of another player who is close/near
• the ball touches a player’s hand/arm which is close to their body and has not
made their body unnaturally bigger
• if a player is falling and the ball touches their hand/arm when it is between their
body and the ground to support the body (but not extended to make the body

The section I quoted at the beginning of the article takes precedence over this section because it is one of the above situations. That “above” section needs to be amended to stop VAR officials and referees from disallowing fair goals.  If the Premier League does not want to amend the rule again they must at least review the enforcement of the rule to include some common sense.

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