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21st Feb 2019

Handball rule to be reworded in attempt to end controversy

The laws on handball will be reworded in an attempt to end the confusion around 'deliberate' handball and what constitutes an offence

Reuben Pinder

This is very much needed

The laws around handball in football are set to be reworded in an attempt to end the confusion around what constitutes an offence and what is deemed as ‘deliberate’.

Controversy was sparked during Manchester City’s win over Schalke on Wednesday night when Nicolas Otamendi was penalised for handball, resulting in the home side’s first of two penalties in the game.

Otamendi’s arm was marginally lifted from his side and he appeared to make an attempt to move it out the way of the ball, but the penalty was still awarded after the Video Assistant Referee judged it to be deliberate after watching replays from various angles.

Under current Uefa laws, the match officials made the correct decision – if the ball makes contact with the hand or arm when it is away from the body then that player has committed an offence – but new wording around the law is due to be passed at a meeting of the International FA Board (IFAB) in Aberdeen on March 2.

David Elleray, the technical director of IFAB, told The Times: “The new text will clarify those situations where players can expect contact with the arms to be penalised and where they can expect not to be penalised. It will significantly reduce the grey areas around handball.

“We will be identifying those areas were non-deliberate contact will be penalised and when it won’t be.

“There will still of course be a reference to deliberate handball, there has never been any discussion about getting rid of that, and any deliberate handball will be penalised in any situation.”

VAR’s introduction at the World Cup last year led to an increase in the number of penalties being given, as slow-motion replays made inevitable handballs look more deliberate. This is a challenge football faces as it begins to bring VAR into more and more competitions.