UEFA slams handball rule: ‘Nobody understands’

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin on Tuesday criticised current handball rules, telling Roger Bennett’s “Men in Blazers” podcast that “nobody in the world understands when there’s handball or not.”

Ceferin’s comments were echoed by the UEFA Football Board, which on Tuesday urged more clarity on the handball law and recommended changes for next season after holding its inaugural meeting in Nyon at the headquarters of European football’s governing body.

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“We had the best coaches in the world in the room,” Ceferin said. “We showed them a situation where a ball hits the hand of a player and we said penalty or no penalty, half said penalty, half said no penalty.

“Those are coaches of the best teams in the world. I think that the referee on the pitch should decide because otherwise we don’t need a referee anymore. We can just have a machine that says handball or no handball, and I don’t like it. I don’t like it. We have to, and we will start working on that to tell the referees that they have to decide if it’s a natural move or not, and so on.”

The board, which includes managers such as Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho, plus former players like Paolo Maldini and Luis Figo, was approved by the UEFA executive committee to give independent opinions on football-related topics.

This week it issued recommendations after discussing the handball law, specifically the aspect that states that not every touch of the arm or hand with the ball is an offence.

“The Board recommends that UEFA should clarify that no handball offence should be called on a player if the ball is previously deflected from his own body and, in particular, when the ball does not go towards the goal,” it said.

“On the same notice, the Board recommends that not every handball should automatically lead to a caution after every shot at goal, as anticipated by current guidelines.”

The Board also said UEFA should contact football’s law-making body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), to amend the law on sending off players for handball decisions.

It suggested that a player should be sent off for denying a goal-scoring opportunity only if they “deliberately and intentionally” touch the ball with their hand or arm.

“In case of other handball offences, the players should only be cautioned,” it added.

Ceferin also repeated his dislike for the current offside rule.

“Two centimeters of offside is not offside for me,” he said. “We have to see if the line should be thicker.”

Information from Reuters was used in this report.

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