Champions League penalty controversy mars match week 3 of group stages / Gullit labels Dalbert sending off ‘outrageous’


LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 04: Referee Felix Zwayer uses the VAR screen during the UEFA Champions League Group E stage match between Chelsea FC and Stade Rennais at Stamford Bridge on November 04, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)

Handball controversy

Game week 3 of the Champions League group stage has been marred by contentious hand ball decisions which cost both Atletico Madrid and Rennes hugely.

Beginning with the incident in Russia, with Atletico one goal to the good, Fyodor Smolov’s cross met the arm of Hector Herrera after the Mexican headed the ball initially. The referee went to the screen and deemed it an infringement. Interestingly, whilst the penalty was given Herrera was not given any form of card for the occurence.

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Contrary to what occurred at Stamford Bridge. Brazilian full-back Dalbert was carded twice for two conceded penalties. The first, a simple foul in the box for which he was shown a yellow and Timo Werner converted to make it 1-0.

However, the controversy arrived when Tammy Abraham’s shot was blocked by Dalbert’s right foot. However, the ball deflected up off his boot and onto his left arm. The incident whilst completely unintentional was deemed another infringement and the penalty was given.

However, differently to Herrera’s handball, Dalbert was shown a second yellow by the official and sent off. Former Chelsea player and manager Ruud Gullit labelled the decision ‘ridiculous.’

“The second penalty is ridiculous. It is outrageous. And to also get a red card is the worst one,” said the Dutchman.

“I think this player has been very hard done by.”

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European differences

Former Premier League referee Peter Walton provided his perspective on the incident.

“Has he made himself bigger? Yes he has, therefore in Europe it’s a penalty. In the Premier League that would not be given,” Walton said. “I’ve got to agree, the second yellow card he picked up for it – it’s harsh.”

So it appears the decision for the penalty was done correctly, according to UEFA guidelines, however the decision to send Dalbert off was not. VAR was unable to overturn the card as the decision was not seen as a clear and obvious error.

The Premier League changed their interpretation of the handball rule after a spate of controversial decisions, most notably a Newcastle penalty late on against Tottenham Hotspur. Andy Carrol struck the ball onto Eric Dier’s arm following a deflection and a penalty was given.

“The fact is UEFA as a whole, once that ball is striking the arm, we’re probably looking at a penalty kick.”

With the rule unlikely to see a similar change to that of the Premier League, further incidents are likely to become a regularity.

See also: VAR drama: Arsenal and Manchester United see handball decisions confuse coaches, pundits and fans

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