The new handball rule has been affecting Premier League games of late as no one seems to know what is going on.
Goals have been disallowed and penalties have been given, too many it seems. There has been 5 already given adjudged for a player to have handled the ball, and we are in the first month of the league. Last season there was 19 the whole season. The rules have without a doubt changed what is happening on the pitch- but for the wrong reasons.
There were plenty of controversial moments just this weekend. The game that sticks out is Tottenham v Newcastle. The home side were pretty much dominant for the whole game, creating plenty of chances, although deep into injury time the score was only 1-0. That was until Andy Carroll headed the ball towards Eric Dier’s arm, Dier was looking away at the time, and whilst Newcastle appealed for a penalty, the referee waved it in. For him it wasn’t a penalty, and he had made what looked like to be the correct decision.
Yet a few minutes later, the game was recalled back because VAR had got involved. Once the referee went to the on screen monitor and checked again, he changed his mind. The question is did he change his mind because he was told rules are rules or did he change his mind because he genuinely thought he had got ti wrong? Newcastle got the penalty and scored- it was their first shot on target the whole game. They had been poor and deserved nothing from the game but because of the new rule which states even if a player handballs by mistake off of another attacker a penalty should be awarded.
There were other incidents too. Everton won the game at Crystal Palace due to the same incident at Tottenham. Yes there was handball but it was very clear that it wasn’t intentional. And then why was nothing said when Kai Havertz handled the ball in Chelsea’s run up goal which gave them a 3-3 draw at West Bromwich Albion?
It makes very little sense, if on one hand the rules stay and there not good for the game, then at least make them consistent. But that has always been the problem, and whilst the rules are mostly to blame so is VAR. Had VAR not got involved in the Tottenham game and respected the referee’s decision Tottenham would have won the game. And there are plenty of sides to the argument. For example if Tottenham were 2-0 up and the penalty was given, would this even be a story?
The IFAB who approve the rules need to take a long hard look at themselves. They and VAR should never be the star of the show, just like before VAR, the referee should be respected but never seen, it’s an art. Since when did we suddenly forget the job the referee does?
If this continues it seems clear that the referee’s job will be obsolete soon. No officials are complaining as of yet but as time goes on who wants to keep being overruled in the biggest decisions?
Last night there was a panic meeting where a back tracking IFAB admitted that referees and VAR could use leeway in how they judge their decisions for penalties from now on. Wrong decision, the new rule should have been abolished there and then, watch this space because the recent meeting will change nothing, in fact it will bring even more controversy.
One final harrowing thought is on cheating. We know that even the best professional players in the heat of the moment can cheat, mostly to wind up a player to get them sent off or dive for a penalty, we don’t like talking about it, but it does happen.
How long will it be until skilled players going for a header, choose to head towards a defender’s hand and not the goal, knowing that they can get a penalty from a useless situation? It is worth thinking about.
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