October 1 – The English Premier League is reported to be lobbying football’s lawmakers in an effort to change the new interpretation of the handball law that has ripped common sense and fairness out of the sport.
The new rule has sparked outrage amongst players, managers and fans with a spate of incidents that have needlessly caused teams to drop points because of a string of unfair refereeing decisions in the opening three rounds of fixtures.
In the latest debacle, Tottenham Hotspur were denied a win over Newcastle deep into stoppage time last weekend when Eric Dier was adjudged to have handled illegally even though his back was turned. Everton controversially grabbed all three points in similar fashion at Crystal Palace 24 hours earlier.
Under the current interpretation, the law dispenses with accidental handball meaning virtually any contact is deemed a foul.
Unconfirmed reports say that from this weekend referees are being encouraged to apply greater subjectivity even though the law itself, imposed by the International Football Association and stipulating that players must be penalised if their arm is raised above their shoulder, cannot be changed until next year.
English football’s referees’ body, Professional Game Match Officials Limited, reportedly plans to instruct officials to be less strict from now on instead of following the letter of the law in terms of players extending their arms outside the natural body shape.
IFAB’s technical and football advisory panels are due to meet this autumn but no law change could take place the 2021-22 season.
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