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Starting with the upcoming Euro 2020, the new handball rule is set to be adapted, UEFA have confirmed.

The controversial law, which was laid out at the start of the 2020-21 season which saw goals being ruled out if they touched the scorer’s arm accidentally, has now been amended by the game’s rule-makers, International Football Association Board.

Although it was set to be official from July 1st and was to be used by all the leagues across Europe, UEFA have announced that Euro 2020 will be the first tournament to adopt the new handball rule amendment.



The law has been amended such that goals that were earlier ruled out due to accidental handballs by attackers in the build-up to a goal will now be allowed to stand.

During the 135th meeting of the International Football Association Board, the matter was a hot topic amongst the members, and eventually, it was amended to basically allow more goals in the game of football.

Speaking after the meeting, Roberto Rosetti, the chairman of the referees’ committee said, “The way the law has been rewritten is more according to the spirit of football and gives players the freedom to play football.”


Josh Maja’s goal for Fulham, which was earlier ruled out due to an accidental handball by his teammate will now be allowed. (Image Courtesy: BBC / Website)


Also, clarifications were issued regarding the argument of an arm being in an “unnatural position” which said, “Not every touch of a player’s hand or arm with the ball is an offence” stating that an unnatural position would be if a player made their body “unnaturally bigger” and that “the referees should continue to use their judgment in determining the validity of the hand/arm’s position in relation to the player’s movement in that specific situation”.


The new rule book will now define handball as follows:

  • deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball;
  • touches the ball with their hand/arm when it has made their body unnaturally bigger. A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation. By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised; or
  • scores in the opponents’ goal:
    • directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper; or
    • immediately after the ball has touched their hand/arm, even if accidental.

Accidental handball that leads to a team-mate scoring a goal or having a goal-scoring opportunity will no longer be considered an offence.



The rule change has been welcomed by players and fans alike as goals scored that have accidental handballs in the build-up will now be allowed as legitimate ones. The old rule played a key role in the 2020-21 season as important goals during matches were ruled out for handballs, which were actually accidental by the attackers.

One of them was during a Premier League fixture between Tottenham and Manchester City when Aymeric Laporte’s goal was ruled out because of Gabriel Jesus accidentally touching the ball with his arm in the build-up. Spurs went on to win the game 2-0, causing an uproar for City’s camp and fans on social media.


handball-wilsonThe handball due to which Callum Wilson’s goal was ruled out. (Image Courtesy: Premier League / Website)


Another was Callum Wilson’s goal which was ruled out during the game against Newcastle and Liverpool in April. Allison’s clearance struck Wilson’s arm at point-blank range in the build-up towards Newcastle’s equaliser and was ruled out.


handball-jesusReactions of Gabriel Jesus after Laporte’s goal was ruled out due to the Brazilian’s accidental handball. (Image Courtesy: Premier League / Website)


Although Joe Willock rescued a point for the Magpies with a 95th-minute strike, manager Steve Bruce wasn’t happy with the decision that ruled out the earlier goal, asking for the rules changes to be adapted as soon as possible.

Now, as Euro 2020 begins in less than two days with Turkey facing Italy, the new handball amendment will be an interesting one to look forward to as there could controversies regarding the same.

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