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Crystal Palace 1-2 Everton: Ward penalty incident angers Hodgson


Roy Hodgson says the “nonsense” handball law that led to a penalty against Joel Ward in Crystal Palace’s 2-1 defeat by Everton is “ruining the game”.

Palace defender Ward was adjudged to have handled Lucas Digne’s first-half knockdown, despite the ball striking his hand from close range.

Referee Kevin Friend gave the penalty after using his pitch-side monitor.

Richarlison scored from the spot-kick to earn Everton victory.

“It’s completely unacceptable. It’s destroying my enjoyment of the game of football,” said Hodgson.

“I can’t understand how everyone in the game – the Premier League, referees, managers and coaches – have allowed this rule to come into operation.

“I don’t want to profit from it or lose from it.”

Hodgson also believes the decision to penalise Ward sets a dangerous precedent for the future of the game.

“I predict what will happen is players will start flicking the ball onto a hand and screaming ‘handball’,” added the 73-year-old.

“I do not believe in the rule. People in football find it hard to accept. The referee doesn’t think it is handball either. He doesn’t want to give it but has to, because that’s what he is told to do.”

So what is the new law?

A new interpretation of the handball law was introduced at the beginning of this season. Under these new rules, a player will be penalised for handball if:

  • The hand/arm is clearly away from the body and outside the “body line” .
  • The player clearly leans into the path of the ball.
  • The ball travels some distance.
  • The ball touches a hand/arm that is clearly raised above the shoulder.
  • The player falls and the hand/arm is extended laterally or vertically away from the body.
  • A deflection clearly makes no difference to the ball touching a hand/arm that is clearly extended away from the body and/or above the shoulder

Though Ward’s arm was clearly away from his body at the moment of contact, Hodgson and his players felt the ball did not travel enough distance to warrant a penalty.

“We have lost in a way I find totally unacceptable,” added Hodgson.

‘Harsh’, ‘confusing’ and ‘ludicrous’ – what was said

Joel Ward, Crystal Palace, Everton
Palace defender Joel Ward looked crestfallen at the final whistle after giving away the penalty that led to Everton’s winning goal

Crystal Palace defender Joel Ward: “It is confusing. When you look at the motion and the momentum [of players], it’s very hard to play with your arms behind your back. It is what it is. There will be conversations, I’m sure.”

Everton captain Seamus Coleman: “Being a defender in this day and age is hard enough with wingers, but then to be thinking about your hand in the box is tough.”

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti: “I am not the right person to judge the decision of the referee. It is not only one referee that decides and we have to adapt to the new rules on the handball. It is difficult, but we cannot do anything.”

Martin Keown, former Arsenal defender on Final Score: “Defenders are going to have to start playing with straitjackets on. What is Joel Ward to do there? This is not within the spirit of the game. It is not in the spirit of the game I joined as a young boy.

“There is absolutely no way [Ward] is trying to handball that and he can’t get out the way of it. It is ball to arm, it is not arm to ball. It hits him.

“I’m not sure I would want to be a defender anymore, with this current law.”

Matthew Upson, former England and West Ham defender on BBC Radio 5 Live: “I cannot believe what I’m seeing with these decisions. Something has to be done. It’s ludicrous. How can you react to get your arm out of the way of that?

“I’m a bit lost. It also took a minute or two for VAR to flag up the issue. The game has gone on and you don’t know what you are looking at.

“I would like to hear the conversation that went on between Kevin Friend and Joel Ward. I don’t know how Kevin Friend could have kept a straight face as he explained how they came to that decision.”

‘No idea what is or isn’t handball any more’ – social media reacts

Owen: “Seems like the trouble with handball is you can either have a very strict rule which maintains consistency but provides situations like today, or you can allow more interpretation which leads to ‘that same handball wasn’t given last week’.”

Rich Wilsher: “Pens produce many more goals than shots, so if I’m a coach, I’m telling my attacking players to kick the ball where a defending player’s arm will be, rather than shoot.”

Amy: “So which rule did the Ward handball break? None of them.”

Neil Beasley: “There is no such thing as common sense anymore.”

Nick Eve: “I’ll be perfectly honest, I have absolutely no idea what is or isn’t handball anymore.”

ChemistPaul: “Well, that was as much of a penalty as the one that Palace benefited from last week. Which is to say that it was never a penalty in a million years.”

Tomas Rooney Murphy: “This handball rule is getting ridiculous. Where is the defender meant to put his hand!?”





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