UEFA has issued a clarification on the handball rule in response to controversial penalty decision in the PSG-Newcastle Champions League match on Tuesday.
Newcastle were enraged when referee Szymon Marciniak awarded a penalty to PSG for a handball against Tino Livramento, despite VAR replays indicating it was an accident.
While referee Szymon Marciniak was technically correct in awarding a penalty against Newcastle in their draw with PSG, it was a decision that suggested the handball law may not be fit for purpose.
Alexander Isak’s first-half goal put the Magpies on the verge of a historic victory over the Ligue 1 champions.
Eddie Howe’s side had held them off until the eighth minute of stoppage time, when Tino Livramento blocked Ousmane Dembele’s cross.
Initially, Marciniak waved away the calls for a penalty, but was urged to review the incident by VAR, with the Polish referee ultimately overturning his decision. Replays showed the ball had bounced off Livramento’s chest and hit his arm, clearly accidentally.
But in the Champions League, UEFA follow the rules set by IFAB, which states ‘making a body unnaturally bigger’ is an offence.
The full handball rules used by UEFA state it is handball if a player ‘deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball, or. Touches the ball with their hand/arm when it has made their body unnaturally bigger.’
It is also deemed an office if: ‘A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation. By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised.’
While Livramento technically broke the second part of that rule, UEFA have come under pressure to scrap it. The organisation formed a Football Board earlier this year, made up of top managers, who recommended that the rules be changed.
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A statement read: “With regard to the Laws of the Game, which stipulate that not every touch of a player’s hand/arm with the ball is an offence, the Board issued the following recommendations for next season for better compliance of the Laws with the nature of the game:
“In their guidelines for the next season, the Board recommends that UEFA should clarify that no handball offence should be called on a player if the ball is previously deflected from his own body and, in particular, when the ball does not go towards the goal.
“On the same notice, the Board recommends that not every handball should automatically lead to a caution after every shot at goal, as anticipated by current guidelines.”
Ultimately, FIFA bosses decided against taking on board those recommendations. That U-turn came at the cost of Newcastle, who now sit third in Group F with only one more game to play.
The decision left the Magpies understandably furious, with club legend Alan Shearer summing up the mood when he tweeted: “Do me a f****** favour man. What a load of s***.” The situation may lead UEFA to revisiting the recommendation of their Football Board.