Later News Oct 01

The English Premier League wants that stupid handball law changed

HANDBALL, or no handball? That is the question that has come up more times since the league started than, “is Sancho going to United?”, and nobody seems happy about it, not even the ones who have benefited from decisions.


Now the English Premier League appears ready to approach the rule-making body to make a change to handball laws that are giving grief to players, teams, fans and even referees, according to the BBC.


Let’s first go over what these laws are. As it stands, a penalty will be given if:


  • The hand or arm is away from the body and outside the "body line".
  • The player moves towards or clearly leans into the path of the ball.
  • The ball travels some distance.
  • The ball touches a hand or arm that is raised above the shoulder.
  • The player falls and the hand or arm is stretched laterally or vertically away from the body.
  • A deflection clearly makes no difference to the ball touching a hand/arm that is extended away from the body and/or above the shoulder.
  • Immediately after a handball, even unintentionally, the player scores or creates a scoring opportunity.


It is believed that the English Premier League wants to alter the part of the law that says handball must be awarded if the ball strikes the arm or hand when it is raised above the shoulder level, as had happened to Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier against Newcastle.


Dier was adjudged to have handled the ball in his penalty box late into injury time. The England international had his back to the action as Newcastle’s Andy Carroll knocked the ball down and it hit his outstretched arm, which was raised above his shoulder. 


WATCH: Mourinho gives his thoughts on Spurs' 1-1 draw with Newcastle


The rule of law, however, makes no provision for the fact that Dier had his back to the ball and had no means of knowing it was going to hit his hand.

The resulting 97th-minute penalty by Callum Wilson earned Newcastle a 1-1 away draw.


The referees in the Premier League will be allowed – from this weekend onwards – to be less strict about their interpretations of the law, especially on the distance an offending player is from the ball and whether he has extended his arm outside the natural body line. This would mean that penalties awarded against Manchester United's Victor Lindelof and Crystal Palace's Joel Ward last weekend would no longer be given.


WATCH: Best moments from Everton's 2-1 win over Crystal Palace


However, the penalty resulting from the ball hitting Dier’s outstretched arm, despite him not having eyes on the back of his head, will stand as the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which makes the rules, considers it a foul.


It is understood that IFAB would be able to put any revisions to its current rules in place only after its next annual general meeting in March, which means that any change in the rules could only be in place in next season.


Meanwhile, expect more criticisms of the handball laws this weekend, or on all remaining 35 matchdays of the season. 


The laws would probably be revised to accommodate the considerations. Otherwise, prepare to see genetically-modified defenders with arms proportionally similar to those on T-Rex. 




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