VIEW FROM SPAIN: LaLiga proves that contentious handball rule is here to stay in the Premier League


VIEW FROM SPAIN: LaLiga proves that controversial handball rule is here to stay in the Premier League… with a record number of penalties given in Spain’s top-flight last season

  • The Premier League is currently experiencing a contentious new handball rule 
  • The same rule was implemented in LaLiga last season and is still there in Spain 
  • Players have complained about struggling to move their hands whilst playing

If fans expect the handball furore stirring up the Premier League to calm down, then —judging by La Liga — they should think again.

The new rules in force this season in England were introduced in Spain at the start of last season and it has been chaos ever since. 

By March last season in La Liga, more penalties had been awarded for handball than in the entire previous campaign.

Premier League fans in England are becoming more annoyed about the new handball rule

Premier League fans in England are becoming more annoyed about the new handball rule

But the situation is the same in Spain with Real Betis' Marc Bartra (above) a similar victim

But the situation is the same in Spain with Real Betis’ Marc Bartra (above) a similar victim

The increase meant that the head of the referees’ technical committee, Carlos Velasco Carballo, had to try to clarify things. 

But his comments underlined the confusion for referees, fans and players.

‘The rules of the game say it’s a penalty if the hand is at shoulder height,’ said Carballo. ‘And that it’s not a penalty if the arms are tight down by the sides of the body. And that it is also not a penalty if the hands are in a natural position. 

In LaLiga last term, more penalties were awarded for handball than in the previous season

In LaLiga last term, more penalties were awarded for handball than in the previous season

‘But from 10 degrees (away from body) to 85 degrees (still not at shoulder height), what do we mean by natural position?’

The bad news is there has been no calming down of the handball controversy in Spain so far this season. 

On Saturday, Betis defender Marc Bartra was adjudged to have handled, despite Real Madrid striker Borja Mayoral appearing to push him into the ball.

Jules Kounde expressed his frustration last season, saying players 'can't play using their hands'

Jules Kounde expressed his frustration last season, saying players ‘can’t play using their hands’

Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini, the former Manchester City and West Ham boss, complained of having to beat ‘Real Madrid and VAR’ and could be banned for up to four games.

Last season, Sevilla defender Jules Kounde summed up defenders’ concerns when he said: ‘It’s difficult for defenders because we can’t play without using our arms.’

Just as in England, games are still being stopped to rule over incidents that have gone almost unnoticed in real time.


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