The intricacies of handball – Reading Today Online

Referee Picture: Pixabay

The Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta sat in the stand to watch his team’s match against Aston Villa despite escaping a ban for his comments on the referee and VAR after their controversial clash at Newcastle.

However, he was probably seething inside as a decision in the closing minutes of the game meant his team were denied a late equaliser

The referee’s decision prompted by VAR, to disallow the goal that would have saved a point, perhaps shows why the technology was introduced to the game originally. Handball too has been the subject of much controversy over the past few seasons, and this decision also illustrates the intricacies of handball.

Before the ball went into the Villa goal, the VAR had seen the ball make contact with the arm of the Arsenal scorer. Was it intentional or accidental handball is the first question, but it is not so simple as that.

If the goal had been scored directly from the hand or arm of the attacking player, even accidentally, or he had scored directly after an accidental handball, the goal would be disallowed.

There are other situations where a handball is not an offence unless a goal is scored directly. One is if a player heads or kicks the ball which then hits their own hand or arm.

Another is when the player is hit on the hand or arm from the kick or header of a teammate. Also, if a player is falling and the ball hits their supporting arm, which is between their body and the ground.

This I think shows that handball is not quite the simple foul it seems to be, and wrong decisions are sometimes made, even at the higher levels of the game.

However, no matter how good a referee you are, there are some infringements which you just don’t see, your vision being blocked by other players’ bodies.

A classic case was Howard Webb’s failure to send off Dutch player Nigel De Jong, in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final, who had kicked an opponent in the chest.

That was pre-VAR, which now should catch any such infringements. In the Aston Villa v Arsenal match, it spotted that the ball had rebounded off the player’s chest on to his arm.

No foul you might say, (see above) but closer scrutiny showed the player had moved his arm towards the ball, which counts as a deliberate handball in the Laws of the game.

By Dick Sawdon Smith

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