Ex-England international says handball rule could result in players risking injury

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London  – The Premier League’s stricter approach to the new handball law could result in players hesitating to use their arms to protect themselves during aerial challenges, ex-England midfielder Ryan Mason said on Tuesday.

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A series of controversial handball decisions in the opening weeks of the 2020/2021 English Premier League (EPL) has led to a furore.

This has led to calls from some in the English game for the law to be changed.

Much of the controversy focuses on handball offences by players, where the referee rules their arm or hand is in an “unnatural position” or is making the body bigger.

The previous established handball law relied primarily on referees making a judgment as to whether a handball was intentional or not.

Mason had suffered a fractured skull after a clash of heads with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill while playing for Hull City in 2017.

He said that while there would always be changes to the rules, the handball rule was not a problem in the past.

“You’re almost asking defenders to not move in a natural way. I’m probably quite passionate about it because I lost my career, almost my life, due to the fact that someone challenged me in a way that wasn’t correct,” Mason said.

“They didn’t use their arms as leverage. You’re taught as a kid to jump with your arms and to protect yourself and there have been penalty kicks given where arms were in natural positions but the ball has hit them from a yard away.

“My fear is the safety of the players. You’re going to get guys challenging not using their arms and almost leading with their head. That’s not good for the game.”

Mason’s old club Tottenham Hotspur were denied a Premier League victory on Sunday after Newcastle United were awarded a penalty kick in stoppage time for handball by Eric Dier.

He was facing in the opposite direction to the ball when he jumped.

Callum Wilson converted the penalty kick to make it 1-1.

Any move from the Premier League to change the handball law for next season would need to be submitted to international football law-making body IFAB next month to be considered.

(Reuters/NAN)


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