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Handball rule changed by law makers

Published on: 05 March 2021

Handball laws were tightened at the start of the 2020-21 season

Accidental handball leading to a goal-scoring chance or goal for a team-mate will no longer be penalised, say football's law makers.

Ifab confirmed the change on Friday, saying it was because of the "interpretation of handball incidents" not being applied consistently.

Fulham's loss to Tottenham on Thursday saw Josh Maja's goal controversially ruled out for an accidental handball.

The change is likely to be introduced in England from 1 July.

The International Football Association Board had tightened handball laws for the start of the 2020-21 season.

However, a spate of handball decisions led to fierce criticism across the game and saw English top-flight referees ordered to be less strict about their interpretations of the law.

Premier League officials were told to particularly focus on the distance an offending player is from the ball and whether he has extended his arm outside the natural body line.

In a statement, Ifab said "incorrect applications of the law" made the change necessary but "it will remain an offence if a player scores accidentally with their hand or arm, or uses their hand or arm directly before scoring".

The body also clarified its interpretation of the offside law, saying the definition for handball, whereby the arm ends at the bottom of the armpit, must be used when judging whether a player is offside or not.

Chelsea's Timo Werner was denied a goal against Liverpool on Thursday night when VAR ruled the position of his arm made him offside in the build-up.


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