Explained: How the new handball rule could have helped Manchester City

Tottenham’s Fernando Llorente scores the third goal. (Source: Reuters/Jason Cairnduff)

If the new ‘hand ball’ rule was already enforced, Fernando Llorente’s goal against Manchester City would have been ruled out. In the 73rd minute, Llorente and Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany jumped for a header from Kieran Trippier’s corner. Kompany missed the ball and it bounced into the goal off Llorente’s his hip after scraping his arm.

After a VAR check, though, Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir stood by his original decision and the goal stood.

The laws of the game specifically state that "handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm".

However, it's down to the referee's interpretation of whether or not the handball in question is 'deliberate'. With definition of ‘deliberate’ varying from one referee to another, this remained one of football’s most ambiguous rule. Over the years, this grey area led to countless controversial moments at all levels of the sport.

So much so that the International Football Association Board, for the first time in 80 years, decided to change the handball rule.

According to the new law, which will come into effect next season, handball situations, even if accidental, will be penalised. So if the ball goes into the goal after touching an attacking player's hand/arm, it will be disallowed. Hence, while Llorente’s actions were seen as ‘not deliberate’ and the goal stood.