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Was Vinicius’ goal a handball? The controversial goal

Vinicius’ goal against Almería was probably the most controversial moment of the match. It was a goal that had the players from Almería and the Santiago Bernabéu stadium on the edge of their seats, and it was eventually decided by VAR after a few minutes of deliberation… without a single conclusive shot. Because with the images that were shown to Hernández Maeso, it is very difficult to be 100% sure that Vinicius hit the ball with his shoulder.

The rules

But what do the rules say about Vinicius’ goal? The IFAB establishes that a player commits an offense if he “touches the ball with his hand or arm in a deliberate manner, for example, by making a movement towards the ball with these parts of the body; touches the ball with his hand or arm when his hand or arm is positioned in an unnatural manner and achieves that his body occupies more space. It will be considered that a player has achieved that his body occupies more space in an unnatural manner when the position of his hand or arm is not a consequence of the movement of his body in that specific action or cannot be justified by said movement.”

In the case of Vinicius’ goal, the paragraph is as follows: “It is an offense at the time the goal is scored in the opponent’s goal: directly with the hand or arm, even if the action is accidental, including the goalkeeper.” In other words, any goal scored with the arm must be disallowed.

But was it a handball?

The IFAB established that “in order to clearly determine handball offenses, the upper limit of the arm coincides with the lower point of the armpit. In the case of handball offense, the arm begins where the armpit ends.” To explain it more clearly, the IFAB published a diagram that determined exactly what was a hand and what was a shoulder. The problem in this case, however, is that the referee was not shown a single shot in which it was clearly seen that Vinicius’ shot was with his arm.

My take

I think it’s fair to say that this goal was a controversial one. The rules are clear that any goal scored with the arm must be disallowed, but it’s also clear that the referee didn’t have a clear view of the incident. In the end, I think the decision to allow the goal was the right one. It was a close call, but I think the referee made the best decision he could with the information he had.

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