Controversial penalty against Palace labelled wrong by expert

The controversial penalty that cost Crystal Palace three points on Saturday was not just harsh, but biomechanically wrong, according to an expert.

The Eagles lost 2-1 to an in-form Everton side at Selhurst Park, as a controversial handball penalty given against Joel Ward saw Richarlison net the winning goal for the Toffees.

But Dr Archit Navandar, a lecturer in biomechanics and at Universidad Europea and sports science specialist, disputed the decision on a biomechnical level.

The incident occurred in the 40th minute when Everton’s Lucas Digne headed the ball onto defender Ward’s hand.

Under new handball laws, the intent of the player is redundant and further changes have been made to do with the position of the player’s hand.

The law states: “If the ball hits the hand or arm of a player who had made their body ‘unnaturally bigger’ then a penalty will be awarded.

“It is, however, considered natural for a player to put their arm between their body and the ground for support when falling, so long as the arm is not extended to make the body bigger.”

Dr Navandar explained that Ward’s arm positioning cannot be considered anything other than natural.

He said: “What Ward does is extend his arm for balance.

“I would interpret it as a natural action and not consider that he is using his arm to make himself bigger, as the document states for when a foul is to be awarded.

“He does it for balance because he is pivoting off his right foot, and given the trajectory of the ball and the fact he’s moving backwards. If he did anything differently, he would lose control of not only his balance, but also his marker.”

So far this season, the 20 penalties conceded by Premier League sides in the opening three matches is more than double this time last year, when just eight had been given.

That statistic has led to players, managers, pundits and fans appealing to the rule-makers to retract the new handball law.

After the match, Palace manager Roy Hodgson criticised the rule, which was introduced at the start of this season.

He said: “A really good game destroyed by a decision. I do not believe in the rule. People in football find it hard to accept.

“The referee doesn’t think it is handball either. He doesn’t want to give it but he has to because that’s what he is told to do.”

It remains to be seen whether the Premier League backtracks on the recent law additions.

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