Why the Premier League’s new handball rule poses a risk of serious ‘arm to players

What was ever wrong with the ‘intentional’ handball rule? Anyone?

Regularly mocked by Premier League players, managers and pundits alike, the new handball rule has left defenders unsure on how to act when in their own box, unable to move freely, for fear of giving away a penalty. Who can blame them?

If the penalty conceded by Eric Dier recently against Newcastle is anything to go by, basically every time a ball comes into contact with the hand of a player, a penalty will be given.

Andy Carroll powered a header against Dier’s hand from less than a metre away, with Dier’s hand only partly outstretched, for he was using his arms to gain elevation when jumping at the time. What makes this even worse? Dier was not even facing Carroll or the ball when it hit his arm.

This sets a dangerous precedent, for if players are unable to use their arms when jumping in the air or sliding to the ground, they will begin to use unsafe motions to avoid the risk of being brought up for infringements in the area. Such techniques will expose more vulnerable parts of a player’s anatomy, such as their neck, to the risk of significant harm from an ill-timed landing.

The highest average number of penalties per game in a Premier League season prior to this year was 0.29. Currently, there has been an average of more than one every two games this season. Clearly, something needs to be done.

If this is not resolved by the Premier League, defenders may ironically take matters into their own hands, which may come with some very serious repercussions.


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Luke Saward

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January 2022
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