This weekend in VAR: Offside, the rules of handball continue to confuse

Every weekend, theScore will look back on the most controversial, puzzling and downright upsetting decisions made by VAR across Europe. As always, there are plenty of choices.

Sterling’s offside goal against Chelsea

It hasn’t been derided in the same way as Roberto Firmino’s infamous ‘armpit’ incident earlier this year, but the fine margins that wiped out Raheem Sterling’s goal against Chelsea on Saturday still had a lot in store. anger.

Luckily for all of us, it didn’t impact the end result – Manchester City still won three points – but it may be time to rethink the offside law after Sterling’s effort has been (correctly) carried over a few centimeters.

VAR got this one right, but maybe that’s the problem.

Handball rule continues to confuse

As much as the offside rule and its implementation by VAR have caused angst, the rewritten handball laws that have come into force this season could be more confusing. Introduced to bring clarity, they have muddied the waters more than ever.

Take Saturday’s rainy clash between Atalanta and Juventus, for example. The hosts were awarded a first-half penalty – which Musa Barrow took (and missed) instead of Papu Gomez for some reason – after Sami Khedira was judged for handling the ball inside the box .

The ball appears lightly tapping his foot before bouncing off his arm, which would have nullified the infraction; a free kick or penalty kick should not be awarded if “the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from his own head/body/foot or the head/body/foot of another player who is close/ nearby” according to the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

That said, the rules also state that a handball should be called if the player’s hand/arm is in a position that makes their body “abnormally larger”, which Khedira’s outstretched limb certainly does.

It’s confusing enough, but it was even more perplexing that an almost identical incident involving Emre Can in the second half (at 2:34 in the video above) was not ruled a foul despite the referee examined the video monitor on the sideline. .

“I’ve seen a few replays, but there’s so much confusion these days about handball,” Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini said after the game, referring to the non-appeal of the Can. “For example, the penalty we were awarded was the kind of challenge I would have been furious to see thrown at me.

“The confusion is there, it continues to be confusing. There are completely different interpretations between coaches, referees, players, fans and we need clarity on what those rules are… He cannot there should not be such unbiased and contradictory opinions. Otherwise, handball becomes a lottery and that is precisely what we are supposed to avoid.”

Amen, Gian Piero. Amen.

When can the VAR intervene?

That same contest in Bergamo raised another issue: how far back can VAR go to make a decision after a goal has been scored?

Gonzalo Higuain’s second scorer of the game, who emerged as the eventual winner, ended a move that began with a clear handball from Juan Cuadrado at the other end of the field some 29 seconds earlier. The Colombian stopped the ball with his hand while he was on the ground; the next time Atalanta touched him, they took him out of their own net.

The players were furious, but the goal was held.

Here’s how Premier League VAR chief and former referee Neil Swarbrick explained this type of scenario earlier this year:

“It’s a subjective area but we try to put things into a process. We’ll only come back to the attacking phase immediately before the goal. We don’t look at multiple phases. When the defense gets possession of the ball, it’s an automatic end of a phase,” he said.

“It’s quite subjective but usually we only look at the immediate phase before the goal is scored. The length of an attacking phase changes depending on the team, so I can’t really put time into it. “

It seems clear!

Has Crystal Palace been sacked?

You are the judge here.

Crystal Palace fell 2-1 to Liverpool on Saturday but the result could have been different had James Tomkins’ close-range finish not been erased while the game was still a draw.

After reviewing the VAR stand, it was determined that Jordan Ayew fouled Dejan Lovren before Tomkins fired the ball home.

Roy Hodgson said afterwards that he was fine with the decision, although there are sure to be plenty of Eagles fans claiming the Croatian defender went down too easily.

Southampton penalty angers Arsenal

Before boos rained down from the Emirates crowd and Arsenal fans expressed their desire to see manager Unai Emery removed, Gunners fans lamented Stuart Attwell’s decision to award Southampton a penalty in the second half on Saturday.

Kieran Tierney was penalized for a slight tug on the arm of Danny Ings, and although James Ward-Prowse’s initial effort was disallowed, he quickly netted the rebound in the eventual 2-2 draw.

Tierney, as the old cliché goes, should never have called the referee, but the replays certainly suggest the contact was minimal. In this case, VAR can only overrule the decision on the pitch if a “clear and obvious” error was made by the official.

In a fluid sport that is littered with so much subjectivity, that is rarely the case.