One of football’s most renowned thumb rule states “If it’s a handball, it is a foul”, however, referees often have a different take on hand balls if it is inside the penalty box.
There have been numerous instances this season where officials have decided to ignore the hand ball claims which could have led to penalties being awarded to the attacking sides.
At times, we hear the experts quote player’s natural arm position being the main reason why refs do not punish hand balls inside the penalty area. But it does not make sense especially when players deliberately look to take advantage of this massive loophole in the modern game.
The latest of the incidents came in Chelsea-West Ham game last night where Enner Valencia’s arm/shoulder stopped Chelsea’s attempt on goal, but it was not deemed as a foul, and neither was it given as a penalty.
But the question here is why? Why the referees are afraid to make the bold calls? Why can’t they punish handballs inside the penalty area and end this debate of whether that was a deliberate handball or unintentional one?
As expected, this incident where Gary Cahill leans on with his left hand goes unpunished only to the fume of opposing manager – Brendan Rodgers. This incident dates back to Nov. 2014, but there have been several instances like these in the past, and if things do not change, we will see plenty of it in coming years.
Football does not or rather should not become a different game when it is being contested in penalty area as compared to middle of the park. It should stay the same, with rules being constant and and with similar repercussions of a foul, be it inside the box or outside of it.
We have seen Premier League or for that matter European League referees thrash yellow cards for hands balls when it is outside the penalty area, so why not keep the same judgement when something happens inside the box.
Until or unless, some harsh calls are made, teams would continue to take advantage of this leniency and offenders would keep on getting away by the virtue of these weak decisions.
Refs are in the game to treat every foul by its merit, and if a handball is punishable anywhere inside the ground, then they should be treated the same way inside the penalty box as well.
Considering Premier League’s claim to be the best league in world football, they might as well need to take the initiative by punishing penalty box handballs and giving the rightful advantage to the attacking sides.
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