Kevin De Bruyne Criticises New Handball Law: 'It Should Be Debated'

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2019

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 17:  Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has criticised the change to the handball law that resulted in Gabriel Jesus' goal against Tottenham Hotspur being ruled out on Saturday. 

Jesus thought he had won the game deep into stoppage time for City, only for a VAR review to deem the ball arrived at him via the arm of Aymeric Laporte. 

The cancellation of the goal meant the match ended 2-2. Reflecting on the controversial end to the game, De Bruyne said he's struggling to get his head around the changes, per Mark Critchley of The Independent:

"They made this rule, it's new. When I saw the video, it's impossible to take his arm away. What can he do? Should he chop his arm off and play without it?

"... There's nothing he can do because Nico [Nicolas Otamendi] is in front of him 10 centimetres and trying to head the ball. You can't react in that space and amount of time. It is what it is. I'm old fashioned, I'm not the biggest pro-VAR, I think if you want to make football better you can understand it."

De Bruyne also noted that under the new regulations, a penalty would not have been awarded to City if the ball had hit the arm of a Tottenham player in the area. "I don't understand it at all," the Belgium international added. "It should be debated."

Here is more of what De Bruyne had to say:

Sky Sports Premier League @SkySportsPL

Kevin De Bruyne says he is 'confused' by the current handball laws after Manchester City were denied a stoppage-time winner against Tottenham on Saturday More: https://t.co/3Z8kOuBBsS https://t.co/y3CgdP40RB

Per Critchley, Law 12 says a player who "gains possession/control of the ball after it has touched their hand/arm" and creates a goalscoring chance is deemed to have committed handball. 

The City man's dissatisfaction with the new law has been shared by plenty, with his team-mate Ilkay Gundogan posting the following on his Twitter account:

Ilkay Gündogan @IlkayGuendogan

Today's VAR decision is really hard to take. Any attacker that commits handball, intentional or not, is now ruled a free kick?? And if you’re defending it’s fine?? It only disadvantages the attacking team. In my opinion this rule needs to be changed. #MCITOT https://t.co/TtPsB96FD0

Former England international Gary Lineker had his say on the change in laws and the introduction of VAR to Premier League football:

Gary Lineker @GaryLineker

The handball law gets sillier and sillier and made sillier by VAR.

Given it was clear Laporte did not intentionally handle the ball in the build-up to the disallowed goal, the City players were unhappy at the final whistle.

Overall, Pep Guardiola's side deserved the three points after dominating the match for long spells. However, goals from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero were cancelled out by equalisers from Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.

Sky Sports Statto provided the numbers behind an excellent display from De Bruyne overall:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

Kevin De Bruyne's match contribution 2️⃣ Assists (most in match) 9️⃣ Chances created (most in match) 1️⃣8️⃣ Crosses (most in match) 3 @premierleague assists this season, already more than his total of 2 PL assists last season https://t.co/CAFhCRXyby

VAR and the law changes will take some getting used to for players, managers and supporters in English football, so there's no surprise there is confusion in the early stages of implementation.

Jesus' goal was the second time this year City have had a stoppage-time goal ruled out against Spurs. In the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, Sterling thought he had sent his side through 5-4 on aggregate, only to see his effort ruled out for offside and Tottenham to progress on away goals.