Rule clarification proves Atkinson utterly wrong in Firmino handball call

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Our post-match reactions could have been very different had Martin Atkinson’s dodgy handball call ruled out a potentially winning goal for Liverpool and the Reds went on to draw or lose the tie.

VAR had a mixed night, helping out Jurgen Klopp’s men in the first-half by ruling out an early Son Heung-Min goal but then penalising Bobby Firmino following contact between the ball and his lower arm in the build-up to Mo Salah’s goal.

The ball did admittedly strike the Brazilian’s arm, but it was clear that the act was unintentional and the result of Eric Dier’s handsy challenge.

Firmino, Liverpool

As can be clearly observed from the Premier League’s handball rule above, our No.9’s contact with the ball shouldn’t have been considered an offence, if it was deemed accidental.

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Given Dier’s manhandling, and the build-up play involved between the moment and Salah’s goal, it should have been abundantly clear to Atkinson that no offence had been committed.

Of course, we are dealing with Premier League referees, who appear to be struggling still to get to grips with the rules.

Fortunately, on this occasion, it didn’t matter in the long-run, as Liverpool put in an outstanding shift to seal the 3-1 win without our Egyptian’s added goal.

More Stories Bobby Firmino Eric Dier Martin Atkinson


  1. If the ref is going back that far and you accept it was hand ball by Firmino then was not the hand ball by Dier the first offence that would mean a free kick to lfc?

  2. It always matters when referees get decisions wrong because it demonstrates that if they don’t have an understanding of the rules then the game will suffer. VAR did not help so that is two referees got the decision wrong. These rule changes need to stop because the game has not been improved but made the game far worse.

  3. They need to stop rewinding the tape looking for fouls. Since Atkinson didn’t stop the game to give a handball to Tottenham the goal should have been given – even if this would have been a justifiable handball. Time to take VAR out of the equation. It is ruining the game of football much more than it is helping. It should be the decision of the coaches of the EPL whether they want VAR to remain or go. I bet we would have 80% against VAR if there was a vote today.

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