Under the current rules, the Dundee United penalty on Saturday was a correct decision, as was the yellow card to Alexandro Bernabei. If your arm is away from your body and the ball hits it, a foul is committed. If this happens inside the box with VAR in attendance, this should lead to a penalty. Outside the box, VAR will seldom intervene, so ridiculous examples of the genre, like Alexandro’s on Saturday, are less likely to be punished. Fifa and VAR have inverted the ‘Outside the box it’s a foul all day’ rule.
The yellow card was also correct, if the arm stops an attempt at goal, a caution should be issued. Taken in total, these rules will lead to game being decided by a high proportion of random events inside the penalty area. Our experience in Madrid last week, where despite a good early showing, we were out of the contest due to penalties that would not have met the required criteria a few years ago, will happen again.
Defenders will also face increased jeopardy when on a yellow card. Previously, they could make sure they did not get involved in an incident that would lead to a second yellow, but there is little can be done to prevent a ball changing direction towards you and hitting an arm when you are jumping, landing or twisting your body.
Corner kicks and long balls into the box will become more dangerous than ever before. We will see the ridiculous scenario, where defenders jump and move around the box with their arms straight down, or behind their back, while attackers have the freedom to leverage their arms. Hopefully the World Cup will be determined by such an event, ushering in a rapid rethink.
Yesterday, according to the referee, already-booked Hearts keeper, Craig Gordon, fouled Motherwell’s Louis Molt, who was clean through with only the keeper to beat. The referee failed to show Craig a second yellow card. I am not convinced it was a penalty kick in the first place, but if it was, not sending Craig off goes against the rules. We need referees and VAR observers who can make better decisions, but as a Celtic fan, you have known that for generations! *(not mentioning our visit to Tynecastle).
It was a great weekend that again proved how football often pivots on fine margins. Seven points is a huge advantage, provides Celtic with breathing space and puts pressure on the also-rans who are now besieged. Two years ago, it was Celtic and Neil Lennon in the spotlight. It’s easier to look in from the outside and see the clear and obvious mistakes that happen when things are not going your way. We’ll explore this tomorrow.