Everything you ever wanted to know about the handball law – explained

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What exactly is a handball now? Is it different in Uefa matches? And is VAR actually making a referee’s job more difficult?

Uh oh, an ‘explainer’ on the laws of football. Can I assume that something has gone terribly wrong? You may. On Tuesday in the Champions League, the referee, Szymon Marciniak, overruled himself to award a penalty to Paris Saint-Germain in the last seconds of their match against Newcastle. Marciniak took the decision that Tino Livramento had handled the ball and Kylian Mbappé duly scored the spot-kick to give the French side an important point. The problem is that the decision apparently failed to meet any of the criteria for handball.

So what are the criteria for handball then? Livramento certainly touched the ball with an arm … That he did, but contact between ball and arm (defined as starting at the end of the armpit) is only the beginning of the considerations a referee must make. First, and most important, if contact is deemed to have been deliberate, it’s a handball. But if it’s thought not to be deliberate other factors come into play, such as the shape of the player’s body when the ball struck them. If the silhouette of the body is deemed to be “unnaturally big” then a penalty can be given, whether the player meant to touch the ball or not.

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Written by Paul MacInnes
This news first appeared on https://www.theguardian.com/football/2023/nov/29/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-the-handball-law-explained under the title “Everything you ever wanted to know about the handball law – explained”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.