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New for 2021/22 - Handball laws

Find out how Premier League referees will change the way they award handballs for the coming season

4 August 2021

As part of a series looking ahead to the start of the 2021/22 season, the Premier League is looking at some of the new things for fans to keep an eye out for. First and foremost will be the laws of the game. Two Laws of the Game have been revised by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), changing how handball is interpreted by match officials.

The first change centres on interpreting what is a deliberate act of handball. Referees will now look for a deliberate action on behalf of the player, with an emphasis on whether the hand/arm is in a natural position or not. The proximity of the player whose hand or arm makes contact with the ball to where the ball was struck from will still be an important consideration for officials when making a decision to award handball or not.

The second change is on accidental handball in the immediate build-up to a goal. If an attacking player’s accidental handball immediately precedes another player scoring, the goal will now be awarded, when last season it was likely to have been ruled out. However, a player will still be penalised if he commits an accidental handball immediately before scoring himself.

More details on these changes can be seen on the Premier League website here. This also includes a video explanation and some examples. Mike Riley, Managing Director of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the referees’ body, also explains the changes.


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