The Referees Technical Committee (CTA) met last Thursday with the coaches and the media to try to clarify the criteria regarding the hands in the area that will be marked as an infraction and those that will not. “The criteria are clear, they are the same as always,” said Carlos Velasco Carballo, president of the CTA. The criteria remain the same that cause the same doubts as always as seen in the season premiere.
On the first day of the League, which began 24 hours after the CTA’s exhibition, the same doubts have returned with their hands. Lucas Vázquez, at Real Madrid-Alavés, and Marcos Llorente, at Celta-Atlético, played very similar plays, but that ended with different refereeing decisions. Both were trying to clear the ball from their area when, after bouncing off their chest, it hit their arm, slightly away from the body and at a height below the shoulder. Soto Grado did not indicate anything in Lucas Vázquez’s play, as did Munuera Montero with Marcos Llorente’s at the beginning. But in the case of the rojiblanco player, Medié Jiménez called Munuera to the VAR, and after consulting him on the screen, the main referee indicated the maximum penalty that the momentary draw entailed.
Celta player Iago Aspas, the penalty taker, commented that he thought it was nothing and Simeone expressed his disagreement with the decision at the press conference after the match. “The other day we were meeting with the referees for two hours and it is very difficult to understand what is hand or what is not,” lamented the coach.
Last year, hands dominated most of the refereeing controversy throughout the season. The CTA tried to resolve the doubts with various clarifying circulars and UEFA even took the floor. The body chaired by Ceferin asked for a change in the criteria of the hands last November, thinking that the rule generated injustices by considering all contact with the hand to be missing, without taking into account the actions of the game. “The arms are a part of the body dynamically involved in athletic efforts and their movement is necessary to preserve the balance of the body,” UEFA said in its statement.
Since the arrival of the VAR to the Spanish League, the percentage of penalties designated has been increasing year by year. In the 2019/20 season, the record for maximum penalties awarded was broken with 149, 36 more than two years earlier, when video refereeing was not yet installed. In the last campaign, 141, 3.7 per day were reported, with a VAR incidence rate of 7.4%, the highest since their arrival in Spain. On this first day, of which there are still two games to go (Villarreal-Granada and Elche-Athletic), three have been indicated, but only in Marcos Llorente’s the referee went to consult the VAR screen.
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