Ex-England referee chief Keith Hackett calls offside and handball rules ‘abject nonsense’

Former England refereeing chief Keith Hackett believes offside and handball laws need ‘major surgery’ and that slow-motion VAR replays should be banned to avoid more baffling decisions.

A series of incidents over the weekend started with Leeds striker Patrick Bamford having a goal ruled out for offside for pointing where he wanted the ball played and ended with handball awards controversial against Wolves and Liverpool.

Bamford’s decision was made on the basis that the upper part of his arm extended past the last defender – the so-called “T-shirt sleeve” interpretation referring to the part of the limb from which a goal can be kicked. marked – although even the drawing of virtual lines was hardly conclusive.

“Really poor for football. VAR tries to find excuses for its use,” said former referee and former head of Professional Game Match Officials Limited Hackett.


Former FIFA referee and former PGMOL boss Keith Hackett criticizes the way the VAR system is used in English football (PA)

Former FIFA referee and former PGMOL boss Keith Hackett criticizes the way the VAR system is used in English football (PA)

“If you keep your arm pointed, there are a lot of arms and the shoulder hardly becomes a scoring point unless it faces the ball and deflects it.

“At the end of the day, it’s a very bad decision, no matter how you look at it. If anyone who plays, watches, owns a club or whatever agrees, Bamford’s goal is the right decision. , he should give up football.

“A Leeds fan emailed me saying, ‘What do you think?’ and I emailed back and said, ‘It’s not offside, it should be a goal’.

“He came back later that day and said, ‘I turned it off and missed the Leeds goal, I was so unhappy with the decision.’

“The offside law and the handball law both require major surgery.

“What David Elleray, technical director of the IFAB (the International Football Association Board, the body which determines the laws of the game), found abject nonsense and no one believes it.”

The handball decision has come under scrutiny after Wolves’ Max Kilman and Liverpool’s Joe Gomez were both hit in the arm at close range as they ran towards their own goal.

Amended Premier League guidelines issued after the start of the season referred to the “expected position of the arms”, stressed that “the arms may be outside the player’s body and cannot be penalised” and mentioned “where it is clear that the player has no time to react”.

At least two of those points, if not all three, could be enforced in Kilman and Gomez’s cases, but referees Anthony Taylor and Craig Pawson both decided to award penalties after viewing slow-motion video footage on the monitor at the edge of the field.

“What we have here is the initial nonsense to penalize an accidental handball,” Hackett added.

“In Liverpool’s case there was a stronger argument to be made, but I’m still unhappy that they don’t take into account the movements of a running player’s hand and arm.

“They (the referees) start watching it on the screen in slow motion and the incident looks worse, as it always does.

“This weekend, Anthony Taylor, one of our top referees, is watching this incident in slow motion and it’s not fair, totally unfair, and shouldn’t be allowed.

“I think in real time it would have shown him how fast the ball was kicked, how far he went and the inability to get out of the way.

“It’s a process I’m not happy with and I don’t think it helps football.”