I am always surprised at how little football fans seem to know about the rules of this sport. Every time there’s a contentious incident we have to explain the latest guidelines on interpreting the rules, whether it’s ‘ball to hand’ or whether someone who is offside is interfering with play. Juventus, however, have no excuse and should be ashamed of themselves for their reaction to the Genoa draw.
Andreas Granqvist completely messed up his clearance and accidentally kicked the ball on to his own arm. His arm was raised, but only in the way it would be when sliding in to make a last-ditch interception. He did not move his arm towards the ball, which ricocheted up from point-blank range off his leg. It was the very definition of an involuntary gesture. As such, it is not a penalty.
I refer you to the rules set out by FIFA.
“Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with his hand or arm. The referee must take the following into consideration:
- The movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
- The distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
- The position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an infringement”
What’s more, pre-season the referees in Italy have a get-together to go over the latest guidelines on interpreting the rules. This included handling offences, advising that if the ball ricocheted off a part of the body and on to the arm, it could not be considered deliberate. These guidelines were then taken around the various Serie A and B clubs so that they could be explained with video examples. Juventus and Conte will therefore know that these are the rules. Their hysterical reaction to that incident is completely disproportionate.
General manager Beppe Marotta then made the situation 100 times worse by suggesting referee Marco Guida didn’t give the penalty “because he is from Naples.” It’s on a par with Catania President Antonino Pulvirenti claiming the linesman had a Juventus symbol on his Facebook page after the Elefantini were denied a goal. Remember that? Recall how much the Bianconeri fans bleated that it was a pathetic approach to an honest mistake? Well, you’ve just fallen below that level. Congratulations.
The worst part of all this is, Juventus do have reason to complain. Mirko Vucinic was blatantly pulled back by his shirt in the penalty area when trying to get on the end of a cross. That should’ve been a penalty. Focusing obsessively on an incident that was open to interpretation is just making them look ridiculous and distracting from a genuine error.
Conte claimed Guida told him he “didn’t feel ready” to award the penalty deep into stoppages. This phrase is also open to interpretation. He didn’t feel ready because he wasn’t sure. He was not sure because there was a clear ricochet off the leg and the handball was not deliberate. Similarly, the assistants are there to advise the referee, but he ultimately has the final word. Why must Italians always leap to a conspiracy theory when logical explanations are right there? Juventus of all people ought to know the dangers of that game.