Fans left confused over handball rule following Burnley v West Brom

‘How that hasn’t been given I’ll never know’: Fans left confused as West Brom’s Kyle Bartley survives penalty appeal for handball… after team-mate Semi Ajayi had been sent off for a similar incident earlier in the goalless draw at Burnley

  • Two handball incidents defined the game between West Brom and Burnley
  • Semi Ajayi had been sent off for West Brom following a first half handball 
  • But his team-mate Kyle Bartley survived a similar incident later in the game 
  • VAR under the spotlight again after choosing to review Ajayi but not Bartley
  • CLICK HERE to read the full match report from Burnley’s draw with West Brom

VAR was under the spotlight again on Saturday after there was confusion surrounding handball decisions during the game between Burnley and West Bromwich Albion.

In the first half, the ball had struck Baggies defender Semi Ajayi’s hand during an attack and Mike Dean did not initially blow the whistle until Stockley Park told him to check the monitor, after which he brandished a red card.

Later on, team-mate Kyle Bartley handled in the box with his outstretched arm. Dean was once again unmoved, but this time, there was no request from VAR to check the incident. 

Mike Dean and VAR did not give  a penalty when the ball hit Kyle Bartley’s arm in the box

Earlier in the game, VAR told Dean to check the monitor after it struck Semi Ajayi’s hand

Social media erupted with complaints about how the two similar incidents were treated completely differently by match officials. However, after further inspection, it appears not giving a penalty against Bartley may have been the correct decision.

‘That Bartley handball was an absolute stone wall pen,’ said one Twitter user. ‘How that hasn’t been given I’ll never know.

‘Not sure what’s more inexplicable, that handball not resulting in a penalty or me continuing to watch Burnley v West Brom,’ said another Twitter user, while someone else labelled Bartley as ‘very, very lucky.’ 

‘Personally thought Bartley’s was more blatant than Ajayi’s,’ said another. However, someone replied saying that because Ajayi moved his arm towards the ball, it was a more obvious offence. 

‘Well there’s no question it’s hit him on the arm,’ said former goalkeeper Rob Green on Sky Sports. ‘It’s whether Mike Dean, the VAR deems there was any intent. The arms go out, it’s what would at the start of the season have definitely been given.’ 

FA rules state that: ‘For the purposes of determining handball offences, the upper boundary of the arm is in line with the bottom of the armpit.’

Essentially, if a player moves their hand towards the ball or attempts to make their body bigger using their arms/hands, it is an offence. It is also an offence if a goal, or goalscoring opportunity is created following the ball striking a player’s hand/arm.

HANDBALL RULE – KEY DETAILS

It is an offence if a player:

  • deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, including moving the hand/arm towards the ball
  • touches the ball with their hand/arm when:

– the hand/arm has made their body unnaturally bigger

– the hand/arm is above/beyond their shoulder level (unless the player deliberately plays the ball which then touches their hand/arm

The above offences apply even if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close.

Except for the above offences, it is not an offence if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm:

  • directly from the player’s own head or body (including the foot)
  • directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close
  • if the hand/arm is close to the body and does not make the body unnaturally bigger
  • when a player falls and the hand/arm is between the body and the ground to support the body, but not extended laterally or vertically away from the body

For the purposes of determining handball offences, the upper boundary of the arm is in line with the bottom of the armpit.

 

 

It is not handball ‘if the hand/arm is close to the body and does not make the body unnaturally bigger.’

Many would argue that Bartley’s arm was not close to his body and the ball appeared to strike him on the forearm, so a penalty should’ve been given to Burnley. 

However, the rules also state that it is not handball if ‘the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from the player’s own head or body (including the foot).’ 

‘I presume it must have glanced off his thigh first for it not to be given,’ said Burnley boss Sean Dyche, and the slow motion replay does suggest this may have been the case. 

There has been plenty of confusion about the latest updates to football’s rules, particularly when it comes to handball and offside in recent months.    

Referee Mike Dean awards Semi Ajayi (left) of West Bromwich Albion a red card

Dean and his family were the victims of shocking abuse when he showed red cards to Jan Bednarek and Thomas Soucek during last weekend’s games, so he would’ve been hoping not to run into similar controversy this week. He has now shown four red cards in three games. 

The game ended 0-0 despite Burnley having a man advantage for a large portion, which has left fans with a bitter taste in their mouths. 

The result leaves West Brom languishing in 19th place in the Premier League, 11 points clear of safety. Meanwhile Burnley remain in 15th. 




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