Alan Shearer, the Newcastle United legend, has spoken about the rules concerning handball incidents in the English Premier League (EPL) following Chelsea’s 0-0 draw against Manchester United on Sunday.
Recall that the Man Utd team were annoyed not to have been awarded a penalty in the first half when Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Greenwood contested for the ball, which bounced up and appeared to hit both players’ arms inside the 18-yard box.
After consulting the on-pitch screen, referee Stuart Attwell decided not to give a spot-kick.
But the EPL later issued a statement to explain the decision not to award Manchester United a penalty in Sunday’s clash against Chelsea.
In his reaction, Shearer said the referees act as though they “haven’t got a clue.”
“I don’t want to see it given as handball, but when you look at the laws… look at the Chelsea players, they are appealing for handball, but it hits Callum Hudson-Odoi’s arm,” Shearer told BBC Sport.
“Under the laws, that should be a penalty. I don’t think it should be, but because of the laws.
“Now there is much confusion, the referees are confused, they have not got a clue what is right and wrong.
“It’s been tweaked. It’s been changed mid-season to accommodate it. Whether the hand’s high, whether natural, unnatural, you have sleeves, the inconsistencies every week.
“I was at Southampton vs Wolves, and the ball was smashed from two yards, 100mph, hits his arm, penalty, but there was nothing he could do.
“Twenty minutes later, the defender’s arm is out from 20 yards, doesn’t give a penalty. Last week, West Brom vs Burnley, that wasn’t given. There’s so much confusion around this law. It’s incredible, the referees haven’t got a clue.
“It’s not critical of referees at all. It’s critical of the system, what they are told to do. One thing it’s this, then it changes game to game. The law should not be tweaked mid-season.
“They are confused, they don’t know what to give. It’s like a rabbit in the headlights, they don’t know if they’re coming or going. We were told a few years ago they wouldn’t re-referee games, maximum benefit, minimum intervention.
“Clear and obvious for the howlers, none of that has happened. The referees are worse now than four or five years ago. It’s so confusing.”