With both Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson and Newcastle United counterpart Steve Bruce heavily denouncing decisions even though they had helped their sides, it led to a spate of handballs and immense controversy.
The changes came after the Premier League went to the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the lawmaker of football, asking for permission to judge such events more subjectively, while still following the game’s rules, rather than as an absolute arm position offense.
PGMOL, the organization that oversees referees in English football, will inform the referees that they can now determine the intended organization location of a player and his proximity to the opponent, meaning that if the arm is out of the body or if the ball has traveled a distance, a player is only likely to be penalized for handball. A new description from this weekend’s round of matches will be used.
But any handball must always be disciplined when the player has his arm above his leg, as this is considered to be an immediate offense by the IFAB. It means that the handball penalties given to Newcastle United by Eric Dier for Tottenham Hotspur and to Manchester United by Neal Maupay for Brighton at home will still be awarded. When they arrived in injury time, both had introduced controversy and altered the results of the games, a draw for Newcastle and a Man United win.
Compared to last season, when 20 were awarded, the Premier League will still see a far higher number of fines, as the interpretation is not being reset to the previous edition. But this shift should prevent it from hitting the thresholds in Spain and Italy, where handball was given 48 and 57 spot-kicks in 2019-20, respectively.