Saturday September 19 2020
Rizzoli: 'Too many soft penalties'

Refereeing designator Nicola Rizzoli acknowledges ‘some penalties were too soft’ and won’t be awarded again after changes in the interpretation of handball.

The 2019-20 campaign saw a spike in the number of spot-kicks awarded for handling offences, 57 out of a record-breaking total of 187, many of them causing controversy for the seeming impossibility of avoiding contact.

“We will no longer see goals disallowed like Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s in Florence,” Rizzoli told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

In that incident, the Milan forward accidentally handled several passes before the goal against Fiorentina.

“The rules have changed, so now immediacy does matter. An example would be Jordan Veretout in Roma-Sampdoria, as that would still be disallowed, because there’s no gap between the Carles Perez handball and his shot. Ibra’s would be allowed.”

The biggest controversy was caused by penalties for handball, as intent seemed to become irrelevant.

“Some penalties were too soft,” confessed the refereeing designator for Serie A and B.

“There’s contact and contact, above all in a contact sport like football. I would, for example, not want to see a penalty given again for Marten de Roon’s handball in Juventus-Atalanta. It was too soft.

“There are situations that are to be evaluated on the pitch as part of a match scenario, but we can’t take away the instinct of a defender’s movements. If the arm could not be retracted, it cannot be punishable with a penalty.

“The objective is allowing defenders to play football without having their arms clamped to their side like penguins. I hope there will be fewer penalties this season, so that we interpret contact more accurately. At the same time, I hope players realise that not every contact equals a penalty.”

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