Controversial new handball rules to be reviewed next month

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EXCLUSIVE: Controversial new handball rules to be reviewed next month after proving to a be a major bone of contention with Premier League managers and players

  • Football’s rule-makers will review the new handball rules next month
  • The controversial rules have proved to be a major bone of contention   
  • The rules most recently caused a stir when West Ham had a late goal chalked off

The controversial new handball rules will be reviewed by football’s rule-makers next month, Sportsmail understands.

The current laws were introduced at the start of the season after the International Football Association Board (IFAB) confirmed the alterations last March.

The revamped regulations have proved a major bone of contention with managers and players this season.

West Ham recently had a goal ruled out after the ball was headed against Declan Rice's hand

West Ham recently had a goal ruled out after the ball was headed against Declan Rice’s hand

And it is understood the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) chiefs expect the new handball laws to be discussed by IFAB, the body that determines the laws of the game, in February.

The new rules have caused controversy this season, most recently last Friday when West Ham were denied a late equaliser against Sheffield United.

Robert Snodgrass’ effort was referred to VAR, and eventually ruled out, after replays showed that the ball had been headed against Declan Rice’s arm from point-blank range by Blades defender John Egan in the build up.

While Rice didn’t deliberately handle, under the recently introduced rules, the goal was ruled out.

But the laws are set to be discussed at next month’s IFAB conference in Northern Ireland on February 29 leaving referees bracing themselves for further alterations.

Wolves also had a goal chalked off earlier on this season because of an unintentional handball

Wolves also had a goal chalked off earlier on this season because of an unintentional handball

HANDLING THE BALL

It is an offence if a player:

  • deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, including moving the hand/arm towards the ball
  • gains possession/control of the ball after it has touched their hand/arm and then: 
  • scores in the opponents’ goal
  • creates a goal-scoring opportunity
  • scores in the opponents’ goal directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper

It is usually an offence if a player:

  • touches the ball with their hand/arm when:
  • the hand/arm has made their body unnaturally bigger
  • the hand/arm is above/beyond their shoulder level (unless the player deliberately plays the ball which then touches their hand/arm)

The above offences apply even if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close. 

How does the new handball rule work?

A free kick or penalty will be awarded if:

  • the ball goes into the goal after touching an attacker’s hand or arm.
  • a player wins ball possession after it comes off their hand or arm and then scores, or creates a goalscoring chance.
  • the ball touches a player’s hand/arm which has made their silhouette unnaturally bigger.
  • the ball touches a player’s hand/arm when it’s raised above their shoulder.

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