Premier League has a month to decide on any handball law change request

A series of controversial handball decisions in the opening weeks of the Premier League has led to multiple calls from coaches and pundits for the law to be changed.

Premier League logo

The new handball law was introduced last season but the Premier League chose a different, more lenient interpretation, than many top European leagues. However, that changed this season with the league responding to calls from FIFA for all leagues to play by the same fundamental interpretations of all laws.   -  Getty Images

Any move from the Premier League to change the handball law for next season would need to be submitted to international law-making body IFAB next month in order to be considered.

IFAB holds its annual meeting, the forum where laws are passed and changed, in March but according to IFAB's protocol football associations need to put in proposals by November 1 in order to allow time for consultations across the game.

A series of controversial handball decisions in the opening weeks of the Premier League has led to calls from some in the English game for the law to be changed.

RELATED| Handball rule draws widespread ire in Premier League

While the laws of the game are applied on an international scale, British football has a uniquely prominent role in the creation of the laws. The decision-making General Assembly of IFAB is made up of the four British football associations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and four representatives of FIFA.

All decisions require a three-quarters majority, which in practice means FIFA's representatives would need to agree to any British proposal. The decision on what items are placed on the agenda is made at a November annual business meeting.

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho was exasperated at the penalty decision which cost his team a win against Newcastle United.   -  Getty Images

 

Crystal Palace's former England manager Roy Hodgson said he was “disillusioned” with the game after his side lost to a penalty awarded for a disputed handball.

“I just don't understand how we've allowed it to happen. The Premier League, the referee, the coaches, the managers, the players, I don't know how we've allowed this type of situation, which we have at virtually every match at the moment, to occur because the rules of football are important,” he said.

RELATED| Hodgson says 'nonsense' handball law is ruining the game

Former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher, now a TV pundit, said: “Whether it's the Premier League, the FA, FIFA, Pierluigi Collina (chairman of their referees' committee), whoever is involved in this stop it, because you are ruining football for everybody”.

The law was introduced last season but the Premier League chose a different, more lenient interpretation, than many top European leagues. However, that changed this season with the league responding to calls from FIFA for all leagues to play by the same fundamental interpretations of all laws.

Roy Hodgson

“I think the rule is nonsense. It is ruining the game of football, no question of that,” said Roy Hodgson of the new interpretation of the handball law.   -  Reuters

 

The number of handball penalties has increased across Europe and while there were complaints in Italy last season, the changes appear to have caused the strongest reaction in England.

RELATED| Premier League: Newcastle earns late point at Spurs amid more handball controversy

Much of the controversy focuses on handballs by defenders where the referee rules their arm or hand is an “unnatural position” or is making the body bigger. The previous, established handball law relied primarily on referees making a judgment as to whether a handball was intentional or not.

There has been no indication from the Premier League or the Football Association that they intend to request a change to the law. The Premier League did not immediately respond to a request for comment and IFAB declined to comment.

One option to deal with the concerns would be for the referees body, PGMOL, (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) to change its interpretation of the law back to last season's approach but that could risk conflict with FIFA and its referee bodies.

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