FIFA tells UEFA proposal to change handball to be assessed

UEFA’s proposal to change the handball law to prevent unfair decisions damaging the sport will be assessed by world football’s rulemaking body, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in correspondence seen by The Associated Press.

Responding to a letter from UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, Infantino said FIFA was striving for “fairness, consistency and transparency” with the on-field regulations that are deliberated over intensely.

Ceferin had written to Infantino last week seeking a return to the pre-2019 law that allowed referees to judge whether handling was intentional or accidental and prevent the current spate of “many unfair decisions.”

Ceferin was sent a reply after his request to FIFA was obtained by the AP on Thursday, with assurances received that the UEFA suggestion will be discussed by the International Football Association Board meetings this month.

“This is not the first time this rule has been the focus of discussion and I believe that it will not be the last time,” Infantino wrote to Ceferin. “I for one believe that the intensity of debate over this particular area of the game illustrates well the passion for our sport and the subtleties that make it so compelling.”

The change to the law from 2019 determined that an offense was committed if players’ arms were outstretched, in an unnatural position, when hit by a ball.

“There is no shame in admitting that sometimes decisions that are made for the good do not achieve their objectives and should be reviewed,” Ceferin said in last week’s letter to Infantino.

The configuration of the laws is overseen by the International Football Association Board. FIFA controls half of the eight IFAB votes and the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish associations hold the other four.

Infantino told Ceferin that his proposal has been forwarded “to the relevant teams within the FIFA administration and have requested that it be made known to IFAB and that it be presented to the relevant bodies.”

IFAB technical and football advisory panels meet this month ahead of the 134th IFAB annual general meeting early next year. Infantino told Ceferin he had been reliably informed that “handball as referenced in your letter will be included on the agenda.”

“As you have correctly pointed out,” Infantino said, “our focus should not only be directed towards considering the potential of changes proposed but also towards considering the efficacy of changes made.”

Changes are advocated by Frank Lampard, whose Chelsea side benefited from a harsh handball ruling in a Champions League win over Rennes on Wednesday.

“It’s a rule that I think universally is disliked by anyone who plays, watches or supports football,” the Chelsea manager said on Friday.

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