Playing with the rule book, the stupidity of reading body language, the Europa squad

By Tony Attwood

Could the PGMO squad of referees actually be getting something wrong? It is hard to imagine there is much they could get wrong since according to their own figures they are getting 98.5% of all decisions right and VAR would add another 2% to that.  (Yes it’s funny, I know, but that’ PGMO, laugh a minute).  But the notion that the almighty PGMO might have misunderstood the rule book is pretty hard to take.

Yet it seems that The International FA Board which determines what the laws of football actually are is going to investigate whether PGMO has got it right in its instructions to refs when they say that a goal scored after an accidental handball be not a goal.

It is pretty obvious to anyone who reads the rules that this can’t be the case.  The offence of handball is a deliberate act so accidental handball is not an offence, and so the goal has to stand.  Could PGMO not understand this?  Really?  Well, it seems so, according to their ultra-secret instructions given to referees.

IFAB is said to be ready to take them down a peg.   IFAB consists of representatives from England, Wales, N Ireland and Scotland (the original three FAs, with the N Ireland rep taking over from “Ireland” who had a seat on the original body prior to the partition of the island into two), plus the rest of the world in the shape of Fifa who have four votes to match the UK’s four.  This curious arrangement comes about from the origins of the game – and the fact that in aftermath of the first world war the UK invited the world to join the show.

The first big transformation they made as Ifab came in 1925 when the offside rule was changed so that only two defending players had to be between the attacker and the goal, rather than three.  The rule change caused chaos – as you may have seen if you have been reading the 1925/6 section of Henry Norris at the Arsenal.  Try this episode if you want to read about what happened when the rule was changed.  The whole series is indexed here.

The other ideas being mulled over include an attempt to stop each country having the right to fix its own start and finish to the transfer deadline, the ending of the away goals count double rule in European knockout games, and VAR in the Champions League (currently being held up because some countries involved in the CL don’t have the technical capacity to operate it at the moment).

Elsewhere Monreal has had enough of the media, and has spoken out.  He has got particularly annoyed over the make-believe tales of Ozil’s bust up and storming out of training, and the way the media have self-appointed, untrained and unqualified psychologists analysing Ozil’s body language.

As anyone who has actually studied body language scientifically will tell you, it is not a language, it is a set of habits derived from and related to personality.  Deeply ingrained habits are hard to change but their meanings are not written in each individual’s behaviour.  Underlying personality however is quite different from body language – but in  the fantasy world of journalists, it is completely possible to say what every player is thinking and feeling.

In fact it is much easier to adjudge a journalist’s personality from what he writes than it is to judge an individual’s thoughts from their body language.  In fact I might do a spot of journalist personality interpretation from writing in a future meander.

Meanwhile we have the news that Gedion Zelalem is now fully fit after his long lay off and has been spotted, not at the airport, but training with the first team.

Other youngsters training with the big boys are Emile Smith Rowe, Charlie Gilmour, Nathan Tormey, Tolaji Bola, Julio Pleguezuelo and Robbie Burton.

And finally, the Europa squad.  It comes in two parts, which after much consideration and several votes Uefa decided to call part 1 and part 2.

Part 1 is the regular team and here it is, and yes, although it can be revised in January, Koscielny is listed in the squad for the first half of the year.

  1. Petr Cech
  2. Hector Bellerin
  3. Mohamed Elneny
  4. Sokratis Papastahopoulos
  5. Laurent Koscielny
  6. Henrikh Mkhitaryan
  7. Aaron Ramsey
  8. Alexandre Lacazette
  9. Mesut Ozil
  10. Lucas Torreira
  11. Stephan Lichtsteiner
  12. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
  13. Ainsley Maitland-Niles*
  14. Rob Holding
  15. Alex Iwobi
  16. Nacho Monreal
  17. Bernd Leno
  18. Shkodran Mustafi
  19. Danny Welbeck
  20. Carl Jenkinson
  21. Emiliano Martinez
  22. Konstantinos Mavropanos
  23. Matteo Guendouzi
  24. Sead Kolasinac
  25. Granit Xhaka

And part two, which is made up of the youngsters.  *One youngster (Maitland Niles) is listed with the main squad but technically is part of this second group…

Daniel Ballard, Tolaji Bola, Robbie Burton, Charlie Gilmour, Deyan Iliev, Eddie Nketiah, Joseph Olowu, Tobi Omole, Jordi Osei-Tutu, Julio Pleguezuelo, Ben Sheaf, Emile Smith Rowe, Dominic Thompson, Nathan Tormey, Joe Willock, Gedion Zelalem, Xavier Amaechi, Trae Coyle, Harry Clarke, Tyreece John-Jules.

And there we have it.

Today’s anniversaries: 

Our memories of a good friend of the History Society

From Untold



8 Replies to “Playing with the rule book, the stupidity of reading body language, the Europa squad”

  1. It is not at all uncommon to see a goal prevented by an accidental handball and all the experts seem to accept this as OK.
    So why do they have a problem for the reverse situation of a goal being scored by an accidental handball, as with Kos a couple of years ago. What a fuss that caused amongst the experts and pundits, and amongst the ref fraternity, even though the ref got it right on the day. It’s got to work the same both ways surely.

  2. Mick.

    The issue comes about following the Wolves goal v Man City.

    The law regarding offside states that only the partsof your body that can score a goal counts as offside. In that game the player was technically onside but his arm/ hand was ahead of all other Man City defenders bar the keeper. It wasn’t a deliberate handball hence the issue

    As far as I am aware there isn’t any FIFA directive as to what should be done in such situations for in theory an arm doesn’t count as offside purely because you can’t in theory score with your arm/ hand

  3. Mike T
    Thanks for that explanation, it makes sense with that example. However the Koscielny one was slightly different insofar as there was no offside to cloud the main issue which was him scoring off the hand. It caused a lot of argument with most claiming the goal should not have stood even though admiting it was probably unintentional.

  4. I would suggest that what a person might consider, is what happens if the ball happens to hit a balloon, a bird, a cat or something else in that category.

  5. If the ball happens to hit something that isn’t supposed to be part of the game (bird, balloon, …), I think (little or no research) the answer is dead ball. We get a drop ball at the point of contact. (Unless PGMO are officiating, and then who knows what happens?)

    What happens if a player was to “bank” a shot into the net by hitting the referee with the ball? My feeling, is that this gets called a deadball, as while we expect the referee to be on the field, he/she isn’t supposed to be involved with play. Again, PGMO might have completely different rules for this. I suspect the rules are: if the goal would give advantage to Arsenal, it is a dead ball. Otherwise, the goal stands.

    There are parts of the body you can score a goal with. But all players are allowed to have body parts that cannot be used for scoring. These parts of the body are not apparently considered in offside. With respect to the hand/arm, it is natural for the arms to be in the vicinity of the body. They are not expected to be rigidly held at the sides. There is a natural range they should be found in when running. There should be a similar natural range they should be in, when jumping (which is a different range). But for an athlete hoping to jump for a ball, while a high hand makes sense quite a bit before the ball arrives, it doesn’t make sense when the ball has arrived.

    But indicating a foul of handball is saying that the player purposely put the hand/arm in a position that is not natural, with the intent of having it interfere with the ball. That is a foul. But if the position of the hand/arm shows no intent to be in a position to interfere with the path of the ball, the hand/arm and ball contact is innocent, and should be allowed as part of the game.

    Koscielny could not have planned for the ball to hit his hand the way it did, the contact was innocent. This incident with Man$ity, I have no idea.

  6. Mick

    The Kos goal was right to be given . That said it wouldn’t have surprised me at all if it have been chalked off.
    For me handball is the most difficult of offences to call because the inclusion of the word “ deliberate” in the law confuses and in realty save the very very obvious incidents makes it incredibly difficult to say with any sort of assurance that there was hand to ball as opposed to ball to hand.
    The irony for me is that the majority of handball awards are given without controversy as they are merely an interruption in play as opposed to allowing a goal scoring opportunity such as a penalty.
    Some say it would be better to say that if the ball hits the hand it should be classified as handball. Would that creat less controversy ?
    One of the great things about football is the controversy or perhaps I should say differing opinions but the concern for me is if the powers that be try to smoothe out all the perceived problems in the laws all that will effectively happen is the product becomes a sterile and stop start game a million miles away from the game that I and I suspect an awful lot of supporters fell in love with

  7. Gord – I seem to recall liverpool losinng 1-0 to a goal that was deflected in by a beach ball that one of their fans had launched onto the pitch at Sunderland. 2009 I think

  8. I didn’t know what teams were involved, I knew something happened. There must be comments about why or why not that should be a goal.

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