‘The rules say it wasn’t handball’ – Dortmund’s Can unhappy with decisive penalty call against Man City

The ex-Liverpool and Juventus man took exception to the blown whistle, arguing that it went against the laws of the game

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Emre Can was furious at being penalised for handball in Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final defeat to Manchester City, claiming that the penalty decision changed the course of the tie. 

Dortmund went ahead early in the second leg through Jude Bellingham’s fantastic 15th-minute strike and enjoyed a slim advantage over their Premier League foe due to the away goals rule. 

But Riyad Mahrez restored City’s lead on aggregate from the spot after the break after Can was judged to have handled in the area, and Phil Foden later struck to put the tie beyond doubt at 4-2 on aggregate. 

What was said? 

“All in all, that was okay. In the end, that doesn’t really help us either. The game clearly changed after the 1-1 draw,” the ex-Liverpool and Juventus player said to Sky Germany.

“I touched the ball first with my head and then it somehow hit my hand. The rules say it’s not a handball.

“To have received a penalty against us because of that and maybe because of that, to have lost the game leaves a bitter taste. A goal was stolen from us in the first leg. It hurts.”

Can’s Dortmund team-mate Marco Reus was also unsure about referee Carlos del Cerro Grande’s decision. 

“From my point of view, it was a handball. But I was also just told that the ball bounced off Emre’s head to his hand. According to FIFA rules, it is then not a penalty,” he said.

“If it had happened like that on the other side, we would have protested loudly too, you have to be honest. You have to honestly admit that City were better and smarter today.

“You have to acknowledge that without envy. Still, if we didn’t concede the goal, maybe we could have kept it open. Then we might get better counter situations, unfortunately we didn’t manage that. “

What do the rules say? 

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) moved in March to clarify the current handball law due to concerns over inconsistent or incorrect applications of the rules. 

“The members confirmed that not every touch of a player’s hand/arm with the ball is an offence,” the IFAB explained in a statement.

“In terms of the criterion of the hand/arm making a player’s body ‘unnaturally bigger’, it was confirmed that referees should continue to use their judgment in determining the validity of the hand/arm’s position in relation to the player’s movement in that specific situation.”

Law 12 of the IFAB’s Laws of the Game deems that a ball that touches a player’s hand or arm directly from the player’s own head or body, including the foot, should not be penalised, unless the contact is deliberate, the hand/arm has made their body unnaturally bigger or the hand/arm is above/beyond their shoulder level. 

Further reading 

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