No-One Was Wailing About The Handball Rule When Celtic Were Being Penalised By it.

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In our household, criticism of Kenny Dalglish is almost considered sacrilege, as once upon a time he did an immense thing for our family.

So it gives me no pleasure whatsoever to express my annoyance at his intervention on the Ibrox penalty award last weekend, the one that went against them, the one decision that was not remotely as bad as the one that they were given and which no-one in the media has even bothered about since.

This is the latest rambling nonsense about how the handball rule needs changed. Which I find hilarious as nobody made any such suggestion earlier in the season when a couple of them went against us and very much for the club at Ibrox.

Not one of these people has suggested what the change should be, but they seem to be hinting obliquely at giving refs more freedom to interpret things as they want.

Amazing how we got here. A few decisions in favour of Celtic, and one against Ibrox.

Funny that, isn’t it?

This whole debate is absolutely nonsense.

The reason is it is an utter nonsense is that refs are allowed their own subjective interpretations of what it is that they saw, which is why Goldson got away with three in a row whilst Celtic’s Matt O’Riley got penalised.

If every ball to hand in the box resulted in a penalty, there would be none of this garbage. But no-one is calling for that, because removing subjectivity takes power away from refs, and that’s what nobody wants to do, although it’s clearly what needs to happen.

Subjectivity. Yesterday’s calls against Livingston came down to the same thing, and they were horror show decisions as well.

Nobody wants to face what that means. Instead everyone is suddenly focussed on one decision – the first penalty against them in more than 50 games – instead of looking at the underlying issue and not just another symptom of it.

All these people see are symptoms, and they misdiagnose the condition over and over again. I am tired of this. We should all be tired of it. The sooner the rulebook is clarified on handball decisions the better we will be and the only way to do it is either to make every touch of the hand a penalty or to make sure that none of them are.

Then Goldson can play auxiliary goalkeeper all he wants.

Neither is a good solution but they are better ones than that which Dalglish and others appear to be proposing, which it seems to me is to allow refs even more freedom to “interpret” the rulebook than they have right now.

Which will certainly not make things better, only a Hell of a lot worse.

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  • Martin says:

    I agree with your cutting through the narrative bias here, but your premise and solutions are a nonsense. Whilst there is some subjectivity about handball, there is very clear and robust guidance about it and the idea that there isn’t is fuelled by people who talk about football in the media not even having the decency to familiarise themselves with the laws of the game. In what other field are we expected to defer to “experts” who haven’t even picked up the textbook?

    As for your solutions, I’m sure a blind man can see why the suggestion that every hand touch being a penalty would absolutely kill football. All that would happen is strikers aiming for hands rather than the goal.

    Your intentions are, I’m sure, honourable. But this is mindless, ill informed, damaging drivel.

    • Seppington says:

      Hugh Dallas, is that you?

      “Damaging”? Don’t talk pish. It’s a blog not the feckin’ Ten O’Clock News, the writer is entitled to voice an opinion. An opinion that will be unread by the majority of football fans so how much “damage” can it do?

      If there is “very clear and robust guidance” about handball why do those who apparently ARE trained in the matter seem to have such a hard time implementing the rule efficiently and consistently? Surely if the guidance was as clear as you claim we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.?!?!?

      If the guidance is as robust as can be it means every “top” ref in the country is ignoring it due to incompetence, corruption, or both – what other reason is there?

      • Martin says:

        The rule is fine, and clear. Especially with VAR it should be easy. Why it has been so inconsistently applied in Scotland is something I can’t answer.

        Hugh Dallas (not me) came on radio calling it “complicated” which suggests he would struggle with following a cake recipe. It’s not a difficult rule, but it probably is in someone’s best interests to have everyone think it is. Which brings me to the damaging comment…It’s not 1999 anymore. Blogs like this with good traffic is how mainstream media gets their stories now. God knows their journalists don’t actually think up their own copy. Articles like this can be taken and spread that way, feeding the narrative that the handball rule is too difficult, no wonder those poor referees get it wrong in a way that almost exclusively favours ibrox…

  • Johnny Green says:

    The old rule of, hand to ball rather than ball to hand, was a much better method of determining a penalty and much more understandable than the mess we have right now. I agree that if we say every handball in the box is a penalty then we will have a breed of strikers appearing who can deliberately strike a defenders hand with accuracy, and so that is a nonsense idea. One thing that is certain though is that it has got to be better defined than it is at present for it is ruining our game.

  • Mick says:

    If every handball was a penalty then players would just chip the ball onto a defenders hand every time they got in the box. It would change the game completely

  • Tam says:

    I remember a player called Mario kempes who ran at defender’s at speed. If a defender touched him It was a penalty if they let him go he was through on goal. What we have here in Scotland is if you are a “the rangers” player and you fall in the box the referee “will” give a penalty. End of. Kent is no Kempes . And Willie Collum has eyes in the back of his head. As he gave a penalty kick he didn’t see.. and who did he give the penalty to “the rangers” of course

  • BJM says:

    The rules are clear it’s the pathetic / corrupt referees who continually amend/ interpret to help one team .
    Get your life savings on the hun in the cup final ,there is no way we are winning that with the line up of officials ( do the research)
    Had tavpen to score again yesterday his odds are shortening all the time now, bookies are catching on .
    Collums performance yesterday was embarrassing,weasle of a man for coveting referee bosses favour .

    • Martin says:

      Exactly. The rule itself is absolutely fine and seems easy enough for us to implement elsewhere. It also hasn’t changed much (there was brief period where it went mental before the last women’s World Cup but it has now changed more or less back to what it was but with a few clarifications on where the arm starts… Spoiler alert, “T shirt line” isn’t in the laws of the game).

      The problem is of interpretation. Firstly the inconsistent interpretation by SFA referees (though they have been significantly better post World Cup) and secondly the “analysis” by pundits who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.

      We have people on telly/radio paid to interpret football for fans and they say things like “last man” or “T shirt line” and talk utter mince showing they know as much about the laws of the game as they do about building space rockets. It’s time broadcasters actually enforced a minimal standard for their pundits. There are 17 laws, and pundits don’t really have to worry about 5 of them (relating to the pitch, player equipment, the ball, the ref’s duties etc). That most of them haven’t read the freely available laws is inexcusable.

  • Finbar muldoon says:

    Surprised betting shops allow this to carry on. Pen to sevco, and opposition player sent off must have happened eight times this year. Cheating doesn’t cover it. HH

  • BJM says:

    Struggling to get a bet on a tavpen with most bookies the odds are ridiculously poor now if you can get a bet at all .Mentioned this to my son told me you get better odds on tavpen as just a goal scorer .
    I’ve also had red card to the hun opposition and tavpen to score double a few times
    Just as well to make some cash until the bookies rumble this completely.

  • John S says:

    Regardless of any particular issue, it is the underlying appointments of dubious officials that will decide it.

  • John Copeland says:

    Hugh Dallas ,remember him ,said on Saturday Sportsound that the handball rule is complicated !That’s a great help innit ! He also said that each referee has his own interpretation of the law . In other words the handball rule is as clear as diarrhoea with a different decision depending on who the referee supports ,sorry , is in charge of the game … Confusion mixed in with embarrassing turmoil ! Oh he also dismissed out of hand referees giving interviews after each game ,you know in the case of clarifying any contentious decisions to fans and scoop reporters . That would be too much to ask the poor wee refs to just clear up the wreckage…. Wouldn’t it …

  • JimBhoy says:

    Handball rule is far from clear. I have heards phrases like arms in an unnatural position or hands out to make yourself bigger.

    If you have a free kick where a wall is in the pen box and a player (in the wall) is holding his haw-maws and the ball strikes his hand is that deemed an unnatural position? If the same scenario the player shields his face what then?

    I have read some comments above that talk about hand to ball etc but the rule all along has had the word ‘intent’ in there as far as I know.

    There has to be intent to gain an advantage, that’s the most important piece in the rule.

    I remember a good few season’s back when Bobo Balde lost his footing and was in the processs of getting up using both arms as you do, when the ball was rolled to one of his arms and pen. There has been little progress on handballs in penalty boxes since then.

    One thiing I would like to see like the passback rule. Years ago when I played you could also get an indirect free kick in the box for things like obstruction.Indirect free kick for a lesser offence or one that had no intent but gave an advantage would take a lot of pressure off the refs. As we have seen this season points can be won/lost on dubious pen decisions and that’s the real harsh point. Teams can win tournaments or get a slot in Europe or relegated on some pen decisions.

    I think there could be some legal matters for teh SFA to deal with if VAR continues to be an absolute embarrassment with bad decisions and the time it takes.

  • Phelim grehan says:

    As Celtic fans we all know what’s coming next weekend every Celtic pass will be diseceted by the rangers supporting var officials. Unless we absolutely batter them we will be cheated at every turn in this game . So for me I hope every day next week this is what our bloggers discuss because the word of football is watching.

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