Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has demanded clarity on the handball rule amid outcry after several penalty decisions in the first weeks of the season.
The Premier League has adopted the International Football Association Board’s terminology for handball and players are now penalised if the ball hits their their arm when it is ‘clearly away from the body and outside the body line’.
That has led to controversial penalties given against Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof, Tottenham full-back Matt Doherty, Crystal Palace defender Joel Ward and Tottenham centre-back Eric Dier. In all four instances, the penalty was signalled by the on-pitch referee only after an intervention by the Video Assistant Referee.
Palace benefited from the rule in their 3-1 victory at United but manager Roy Hodgson dubbed it a ‘nonsense’ and lamented it was ‘ruining the game’ after Palace’s 2-1 defeat to Everton. Newcastle only earned a draw at Spurs through Callum Wilson’s added-time penalty after the ball hit Dier’s arm but manager Steve Bruce suggested Premier League clubs ‘get together… and say “this must stop”‘.
Solskjaer disputed the penalty that Newcastle received at Tottenham on Sunday and questioned why Chelsea’s late equaliser at West Brom was not ruled out after the ball hit Kai Havertz’s hand seconds before Tammy Abraham scored.
“I think football has changed,” Solskjaer said. “There are no fans, it’s a different game. Pre-season we were at different stages, the new handball rule… you never know what’s going to happen.
“You can discuss it all day long but we need some clarity on what’s a foul and what’s a penalty because now it looks like you can chip the ball up into someone’s hand like what happened to us against Palace, for example, and Victor got a penalty against him.
“And then the header against Tottenham, [Dier]’s got no idea the ball hits him. You see the goal scored against West Brom at the end, is that not handball? We need to get that clarity. It’s a whole spectre of things that aren’t normal.
“There have been so many changes and nuances to different rules. Back in the old day it seemed simpler.”