Football’s lawmakers expected to clarify handball law on Friday

Further clarification on the handball law is expected from the game’s lawmakers on Friday.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 5:54 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th March 2021, 6:31 pm

Attempts by the International Football Association Board to provide a more “precise and detailed” definition of the offence over the last two years have not succeeded in making handball decisions any less controversial, with last weekend’s incident involving Callum Hudson-Odoi in the Chelsea versus Manchester United match a good case in point.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder previously described the current handball law as a ‘farce’.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin wrote to his FIFA counterpart Gianni Infantino last October calling for the old text of the law to be reinstated and for lawmakers to accept that “sometimes decisions that are made for the good do not achieve their objectives”.

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SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - JULY 02: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur argues with referee Chris Kavanagh as he goal was ruled out by VAR during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Tottenham Hotspur at Bramall Lane on July 02, 2020 in Sheffield, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Pool via Getty Images)

Another controversial law – offside – is on the agenda, but Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford said at the IFAB annual business meeting in December that discussions around possibly changing it are in their infancy.

A proposal from former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger – now FIFA’s chief of global football development – is being considered, while the IFAB will also examine the progress of work to develop automated systems to detect offside.

The offside law has come under particular scrutiny since the advent of VAR, which can use technology to make fine-margin decisions.

VAR itself is also on the agenda, although this is expected to be less about its pros and cons and more to do with how the technology can be more easily and cheaply made available to smaller leagues with lower budgets around the world.

The amendment to the laws to allow up to five substitutes will be discussed and a possible extension considered, and there will be an update on the concussion substitute trials approved in December.