Why Sheffield United weren't awarded a penalty during the FA Cup win over Plymouth Argyle

Sheffield United were told Jarred Gillett, the VAR official during their FA Cup tie against Plymouth Argyle, refused to award them a penalty when Ethan Ampadu’s shot appeared to be handled by a visiting defender because the ball struck his “armpit” according to manager Chris Wilder.

Sunday, 24th January 2021, 4:00 pm

Speaking after the fourth round match, which United won 2-1, Wilder was asked if he had received advice on why the Australian had declined to overturn referee Lee Mason’s original decision following a review of the incident.

Ampadu was incensed by Mason’s interpretation of Kelland Watt’s block, with television replays suggesting the Plymouth centre-half had used an arm to prevent the ball reaching goalkeeper Michael Cooper. Admitting he was surprised by Gillett’s failure to award a spot-kick when the footage was reviewed at Stockley Park, Wilder told The Star: “Oh dear me. Apparently it was because it (the ball) was in ‘The Green Zone’. I said (to the officials): ‘That’s quite big you know because they are actually playing in green.’

“I’m going to have to watch it back again but, honestly at the time, I don’t think anybody else could believe it. Apparently, as it was explained to me, it was because the ball hit him underneath his arm - on his armpit. Really, that’s not the way it seemed to be either in real time or on the monitor but I suppose I’m going to have to look at it again.”

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Plymouth Argyle's Keeland Watts with Oliver Burke of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

IFAB, football’s international rule making body, unveiled a new interpretation of the handball law in September, stating officials must have “clear evidence” the ball has struck a player’s arm “below the bottom of the armpit and in the red zone” before intervening.

“His arms were raised in an unnatural position,” Wilder said, referring to Watts. “I’ve not looked incredibly closely at it, but it baffled me and my coaching staff. If it was the armpit, then we’ll just have to get over it.

"Fortunately, it didn’t matter in the end. But I will have a look at it again – take a closer look at the footage. We were really surprised at the time though.”

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Ethan Ampadu of Sheffield United appeals to referee Lee Mason during The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Sheffield United and Plymouth Argyle at Bramall Lane: Stu Forster/Getty Images