Foot­ball fury at ‘lu­di­crous’ hand­ball law

Bruce tells man­agers to unite and ‘say this must stop’ Dier penalty de­ci­sion adds to week­end of con­tro­ver­sial calls

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Jeremy Wil­son CHIEF SPORTS RE­PORTER

A group of the Premier League’s most se­nior man­agers are ready to make a di­rect ap­peal to foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing bod­ies to over­rule “lu­di­crous” changes to the hand­ball law.

Steve Bruce, the New­cas­tle United man­ager, called the new Premier League in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the rule “a to­tal non­sense” even af­ter his team sal­vaged a draw with a penalty in added time against Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur when Andy Carroll headed the ball into Eric Dier’s arm.

Roy Hodg­son had de­scribed the rule as “com­pletely un­ac­cept­able” on Satur­day af­ter Crys­tal Palace’s de­feat and said that it was “de­stroy­ing” his en­joy­ment of foot­ball.

Jose Mourinho also pre­dicted that, “for some”, it could now “eas­ily” be­come a tac­tic in foot­ball to sim­ply get into the penalty area and then kick the ball as hard as pos­si­ble in the di­rec­tion of an op­po­nent’s arm.

Foot­ball’s rule maker, the In­ter­na­tional Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion Board, has in­tro­duced the most sub­stan­tial set of changes to the hand­ball rule this cen­tury in re­cent sea­sons – and the most con­tro­ver­sial re­lates to in­tent. The Premier League had pre­vi­ously in­structed ref­er­ees to give play­ers extra lee­way for ric­o­cheted hand­balls that were im­pos­si­ble to avoid, but was told this sum­mer by Fifa to fall into line with the rest of foot­ball. As well as al­low­ing ref­er­ees to use pitch­side mon­i­tors for Var de­ci­sions, that meant award­ing fouls for hand­ball when­ever a player was deemed to have made their body “un­nat­u­rally big­ger” with their arm re­gard­less of in­tent.

As in Serie A and La Liga last sea­son, that has al­ready led to a dras­tic in­crease in the num­ber of Premier League penal­ties and a spate of de­ci­sions when play­ers have clearly not meant to use their arm.

“I think we have to get to­gether as the man­agers, the coaches, to go to the Premier League and say this must stop,” Bruce said. “It’s a to­tal non­sense. We have got one to­day, we should be jump­ing for joy but I would be dev­as­tated if it was against us. I would be ab­so­lutely out­raged. Roy is right. It’s lu­di­crous.

“If you are go­ing to jump, like Dier did, it’s im­pos­si­ble for your arms not to go up to give you the bal­ance. The hand­ball rule had been around for 100 years. Now we are ru­in­ing the spec­ta­cle.”

Jan Ver­tonghen, the for­mer Tot­ten­ham de­fender, said that “se­ri­ous ques­tions” should also be asked in­side the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

“Ab­so­lutely shock­ing de­ci­sions and they are hid­ing be­hind the ref­er­ees,” he said.

Mourinho tried not to com­ment di­rectly on the hand­ball in­ci­dent but walked straight down the

tun­nel af­ter the in­ci­dent to avoid any con­fronta­tion with ref­eree Peter Bankes. Spurs goal­keep­ing coach Nuno San­tos, how­ever, was less res­trained and was shown a red card af­ter con­fronting Bankes.

Mourinho cited an un­will­ing­ness to get fined by the FA as an ex­pla­na­tion for his ret­i­cence to talk, but did back Hodg­son’s as­sess­ment and com­plained that Tot­ten­ham had been dis­re­spected.

“Mr Roy [Hodg­son] is our boss, the man with more ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said. “He has the sta­tus, the knowhow, re­spected by ev­ery­one. The only feel­ing I am ready to share is I don’t feel Tot­ten­ham is re­spected ac­cord­ing to what the club is. No re­spect. [For] ev­ery­thing this club did over the years and we want to do in the fu­ture, we de­serve a bit more.”

Of San­tos’s send­ing-off he said: “I’m more ex­pe­ri­enced than him and I left down the tun­nel. So Nuno was a bit more naive than me and he stayed there. I pro­tect my­self.”

For­mer play­ers and man­agers lined up to sup­port Bruce, Hodg­son and Mourinho. Jamie Car­ragher, the ex-Liverpool cap­tain, said that the rule-mak­ers were “ru­in­ing foot­ball”.

Graeme Souness, an­other for­mer Liverpool cap­tain, called the hand­ball law “ridicu­lously harsh” while Spurs leg­end Glenn Hod­dle asked: “Can we have our game back?”

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