The most recent Wolves update involves the release of VAR audio from their 1-1 draw with Luton, shedding light on a penalty decision. Howard Webb, the chief of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), acknowledges that the decision to award a penalty against Wolves in their Premier League match against Luton Town has generated differing opinions.
In the game, Wolves were leading 1-0 at Kenilworth Road, despite having only 10 players on the field after a first-half dismissal. However, 15 minutes after Pedro Neto scored for Gary O’Neil’s team, referee Josh Smith awarded a penalty to Luton, with Joao Gomes being deemed to have committed a handball offense. This decision sparked controversy, with O’Neil and former Premier League referee Mike Dean both disputing it, even though it was reviewed by VAR.
Webb has now clarified the decision in a monthly show that releases audio of specific VAR incidents. The PGMOL chief discussed the ambiguity of the handball rule, stating that it has divided opinions. He mentioned that the Laws of the Game have evolved over time, with the removal of terms like “unnatural position” and the introduction of words like “unjustifiable position” and “taking a risk by putting your arm in that position.” Referee Josh Smith felt that Gomes’ arm was so unnaturally positioned above his head that it warranted a penalty.
Webb emphasized the need for consultation with stakeholders in the game and suggested the possibility of incorporating flexibility into the Laws of the Game to adapt them to the English game. He also noted that they couldn’t consider any deflection as preventing a handball, as that might lead to players intentionally positioning their arms in a way that would avoid penalties.
The VAR audio transcript provided insight into the decision-making process, with the VAR team discussing the position of the arm and the deflection that occurred.
The article invites readers to share their opinions on the decision in the comments section.