Manchester United’s handball and Tottenham vs Arsenal offside calls come to the fore in Mark Halsey’s Ref Review

The past week provided two of the biggest talking points of the season so far. Firstly, a penalty awarded to Tottenham in the North London derby on Saturday sparked controversy as to whether Harry Kane was offside before being fouled and then Manchester United completed a dramatic comeback in Paris thanks to a stoppage time VAR call. Fortunately, former Premier League referee Mark Halsey is back to talk us through the drama…


Anthony Taylor (Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal)

The PGMOL confirmed on Sunday that Kane was offside and it shouldn’t have been given as a penalty. The assistant referee is out of position from a dead ball position and he isn’t in line with the second most rear defender, if he had have been he would make that judgement correctly.

Had that flag gone up then there’s no doubt whatsoever Anthony would have blown for offside but for me it fits the criteria for becoming involved in active play, impacting on a defender and interfering with an opponent and I said that at the time and I said it on Sunday.

The offside law needs simplifying because it creates a lot of confusion, it should be top of the agenda so that everybody understands the law. There’s another part of the law which is contradictory but Kane isn’t going to be near the ball because the ball hasn’t come to him yet. He knows where it will be and he’s making a challenge to play the ball, that’s becoming involved in active play and it’s offside all day long.

I thought the second penalty was exaggerated contact, it wasn’t a penalty for me but I also think it should have been retaken for encroachment from Vertongthen. There’s a certain amount of common sense allowed but that went above and beyond common sense and he should have been penalised for encroachment.

Torreira was a bit unlucky but you run the risk when you’re that high but I was amazed Arsenal appealed because I knew they wouldn’t win it. I also felt Danny Rose should have been sent off and also Xhaka for an early challenge on Kane. Anthony’s recognition of foul challenges wasn’t what it should have been for that level and he was very inconsistent.


Stuart Attwell (Manchester United vs Southampton)

For me, if it’s just a knee offside then it’s not a clear and obvious error from the referee and you’ve got to let the Lukaku goal stand. There’s no problem there for me and no problem on the Man United penalty either.

I thought Southampton had a shout for a penalty, I think one out of the two was a penalty but maybe Stuart had last Wednesday on his mind when he gave a penalty to Manchester City which was never a penalty.


Chris Kavanagh (West Ham United vs Newcastle United)

This was a clear penalty and well spotted by Chris and he continues to have a good season. If he continues improving he’s going to come up to being one of the top referees alongside the likes of Michael Oliver.


Graham Scott (Fulham vs Chelsea)

It was a good decision by the assistant referee to spot Sessegnon was correctly offside and I don’t think Fulham can have any complaints over the goal being disallowed.


Martin Atkinson (Everton vs Liverpool)

As Merseyside derbies go I thought it was a very tame affair and the player behaviour was very good. Martin didn’t really have to get involved and he just let the game flow and that’s what you want as a referee.


Damir Skomina (PSG vs Manchester United)

From what I gather, the majority of people are saying it wasn’t a penalty and I agree. In a game of that magnitude, we don’t want to see them settled by a VAR decision like that.

The IFAB protocol states it has to be a clear and obvious error and this decision was subjective because there’s so many people saying it was a penalty and many saying it wasn’t. If that’s the case, how can it be a clear and obvious error?

Law 12 states irrespective of the positioning of the hand/arm doesn’t necessarily mean an offence has been committed. It has to be a deliberate movement of the hand/arm towards the ball. When it takes the referee three times to look at it then it’s not a penalty.

I felt sorry for the officials because they’ve been under pressure by Roberto Rossetti in a meeting in London and being told these kinds of decisions are penalties. Rossetti is not following Law 12 and there’s nothing in it about making yourself bigger.


You can follow Mark on Twitter at @RefereeHalsey

1 Comment on Manchester United’s handball and Tottenham vs Arsenal offside calls come to the fore in Mark Halsey’s Ref Review

  1. Dhinnesh Ramduny // March 8, 2019 at 5:16 pm // Reply

    You are mistaken, the hand diverted the ball which was going towards the goalpost.

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