Martin Atkinson checking the VAR screen

Solskjaer wants clarity on new handball rule

Tuesday 29 September 2020 17:00

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Premier League managers need clarity regarding the new handball rule.

The 2020/21 season is just 28 games old, yet 20 penalties have already been awarded – including three in Manchester United’s two matches so far.

While not all of the spot-kicks have been given for handball, the tweaks that have been made to the law have been much discussed in recent weeks, particularly from a Reds point of view, with Victor Lindelof adjudged to have fallen foul in our opener against Crystal Palace.

Palace boss Roy Hodgson spoke out against the changes after his side were caught out in defeat to Everton on Saturday, while Steve Bruce also criticised them despite Newcastle benefiting from a decision given against Eric Dier late on in their draw at Tottenham.

Now Solskjaer concedes he’s unsure as to what is and what isn’t handball, as the recent IFAB amendments come under increased scrutiny.

Key rule changes for the new Premier League season


There will be five key alterations to VAR next season, plus some adaptions to the handball rule and use of substitutes.

“Yeah, I think football has changed. There are no fans, it’s a different game,” Ole told us, when asked why we’re seeing so many goals being scored in the top-flight.

“Pre-season we were at different stages, the new handball rule… you never know what’s going to happen.

“You can discuss it all day long but we need some clarity on what’s a foul and what’s a penalty because now it looks like you can chip the ball up into someone’s hand, like what happened to us against Palace for example, and Victor [Lindelof] got a penalty against him.

“And then the header against Tottenham, he’s [Dier] got no idea the ball hits him. You see the goal scored against West Brom at the end, is that not handball [by Kai Havertz in the build-up to Tammy Abraham’s equaliser]?”

The ‘new’ handball law has actually been in force across Europe since the beginning of last season, but the Premier League has now brought itself in line with the rest of the continent.

With the Video Assistant Referee informing referees of any offences they may have missed, players can be penalised for handball if the hand or arm is clearly away from the body and the player clearly leans into the path of the ball.

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Ole: We want to go far in this competition

The boss previews the cup tie at Brighton, as well as sharing his views on handball and the Champions League draw…

The distance between the attacker and the defender can also be taken into account by officials – but Ole sees all these permutations as merely confusing matters.

“We need to get that clarity," he added. “It’s a whole spectrum of things that aren’t normal [that is behind the spike in goals].

“There have been so many changes and nuances to different rules. Back in the old days, it seemed simpler.”

The new season is here. Our 2020/21 home, away and third kits are available now from United Direct.