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29th Sep 2020

Premier League referees to show more leniency with handball decisions

Referees have been told to show more leniency with handball decisions from this weekend onwards after a series of farcical decisions

Reuben Pinder

Reason will prevail!

After a series of farcical handball decisions in the first three gameweeks of the Premier League season, referees will be permitted to show more leniency with handball decisions, The Athletic report.

After a conversation with International Football Association Board (IFAB), it was agreed at a Premier League meeting on Tuesday that refs will be allowed to apply greater subjectivity within the existing rules.

Sources told the Athletic that “Nobody at the Premier League, PGMOL or anyone else is enjoying this rule.”

The flurry of controversial calls which seem to defy all common sense came after IFAB changed the wording of the handball law in an attempt to dispel any disputes over whether a handball by making it more black and white, but in turn only added fuel to the fire.

The rule itself isn’t going to change but referees will not be forced to apply the letter of the law in instances of the ball deflecting off a player’s side onto their arm, for instance. If a player’s arm is still above their head when the ball touches it, the penalty would still be awarded. So, Dier against Newcastle? Pen. Kock vs Liverpool? Maybe not.

The distance between the offender and the ball when it is kicked or headed towards them will also come into consideration. So in the two instances where Crystal Palace have been involved, both in their own box against Everton and in the opposition’s box against United, neither penalty would now be given.

The new interpretation of the rule will be applied from gameweek four onwards.