penalty

It is a shame that despite an excellent comeback from Manchester United against PSG on Wednesday, that saw them progress to the last 8 of the Champions League, it seems all that is being talked about is the stoppage time penalty given after consultation with the VAR.

The ‘powers that be’ had already announced changes to the handball law, but what are they and how will they affect decisions going forward?

The current rule reads like this:

Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm.

The following must be considered:

The movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)

The distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)

The position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an offence

So at the moment, handball can only be given is it is deliberate – which wasn’t really the case when Kimpembe handled it.

In an interview back in January, Head of UEFA referees Robert Rossetti said that in this seasons Champions League, officials would penalize any unnatural arm movement that makes contact with the ball – which kind of contradicts the laws of the game if the movement is natural rather than on purpose.

“The big challenge is the position of the arm. When the arm is totally out of the body above the shoulder it should be penalised. If the defender is making the body bigger in order to block the ball it is not fair,” he went on.

“It is different if the defender is challenging or playing the ball and it rebounds. But if he is looking to block a cross or a shot on goal and the player is trying to spread his body then it is a handball.”

More recently, Ifab – football’s law-makers – said changes to the handball law would mean a foul – and therefore penalty if the incident is in the home penalty area – would be given against a player if their arms extend “beyond a natural silhouette” – even if it is accidental.

Ifab chief David Elleray -remember him?? – explained: “If the arms are extended beyond that silhouette then the body is being made unnaturally bigger, with the purpose of it being a bigger barrier to the opponent or the ball.

“Players should be allowed to have their arms by their side because it’s their natural silhouette.”

So, that’s clear then. Er, not. If anything, it is likely to complicate matters more. It is good to know that even with the introduction of VAR there will still be plenty to argue about with mates down the pub.

The law comes in from June 1st – the date of the Champions League final.

Whoever decided that should be the first game for which the new law applies could well be collecting their p45 the next day if there are any major incidents in UEFA’s showpiece game of the season…

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