We are only three weeks into the Premier League season, but the new campaign has been fraught with controversy surrounding one particular area of the game; the handball rule.
Leeds conceded a penalty in their first game back in the top flight when the ball venomously hit Robin Koch’s knee and bounced onto his outstretched arm, though the German could do little about it, leaving Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah to despatch the resulting spot-kick.
Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof was then harshly punished the following week as the ball flicked up against his arm from close range in the Red Devils 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace, before there was even more controversy this weekend, Andy Carroll’s header striking the back of Eric Dier’s raised arm, VAR again interpreting the law to the absolute letter to hand Newcastle a 97th minute penalty to equalise against a furious Spurs.
Even in spite of his side benefitting from the decision, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce described the rule as ‘total nonsense’, while Roy Hodgson said that it is ‘killing the game’, Crystal Palace also having conceded a penalty in harsh circumstances in their game against Everton at the weekend.
Roy Hodgson is NOT happy.
He says the new handball law is "killing the game". pic.twitter.com/4qUX343njZ
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) September 26, 2020
Speaking ahead of his side’s Carabao Cup clash against Tottenham, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was in full agreement with the views of Bruce and Hodgson and called for a change in the law.
“I don’t have the answers but I agree with both Steve Bruce and Roy Hodgson in their analysis of it,” Lampard said at his pre-match press conference. “They’ve been in the game longer than myself but we’re all in this game and we all understand that when people jump in the box, arms will naturally move into these positions.
“It’s always been a difficult rule with maybe a bit of a grey area but the idea of trying to find some clarity has actually gone the other way and made something that just doesn’t feel right at all so I’d like to think something can be done to change.”
The handball rule currently reads: “A foul will be awarded the ball hits a player who has made themselves “unnaturally bigger” with their arm. IFAB determine that a hand or arm above shoulder height is rarely a “natural position”. There can be exceptions, such as when a player is falling. Leeway can also be given with ricocheted handballs, when it comes off a nearby player of if the player cannot see the ball.”