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Barcelona's Gerard Pique on Handball Call vs. Osasuna: 'I Can't Cut Off My Arms'

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2019

PAMPLONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 31: Gerard Pique of FC Barcelona looks on prior to the start the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and FC Barcelona at Estadio Reyno de Navarra on August 31, 2019 in Pamplona, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Gerard Pique is not a fan of today's handball laws. The Barcelona centre-back took referees and the rules to task after giving away a penalty late on during Saturday's 2-2 draw away to Osasuna in La Liga.

Pique was deemed to have blocked a cross from Oier Sanjurjo with his arm in the 81st minute. A spot-kick was given, and Roberto Torres converted to earn a point.

It wasn't a decision Pique agreed with, nor does he believe the demands placed on defenders by today's rules are realistic:

Juan G. Arango 🇨🇴 🇮🇹 @JuanG_Arango

“I can’t cut off my arms and also if it doesn’t hit me in the arm, it hits me in the face. At the beginning of the season, referees said lots of things to us...The distance of the ball when struck the attacker. It was very clear to me, it was not a penalty #fcblive

Pique's complaints are valid, even if many holding a more old-fashioned view of the game would demand he let the ball hit him in the face rather than risk giving referees a decision to make.

However, Pique may have a point based on the reasons the International FA Board gave for altering the rules this summer. These changes, instituted by Ifab chief David Elleray, were supposed to help defenders, according to BBC Sport's Stephen Couse: "Elleray says this is an effort to put an end to defenders placing their arms behind their backs in fear of giving away a free-kick."

Today's handball law is supposed to prevent unfair advantages being gained to help the scoring of goals. Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne bemoaned the interpretation when Aymeric Laporte's arm was judged to have made contact with the ball, ultimately cancelling out an apparent winner from substitute Gabriel Jesus in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month.

Goal @goal

Kevin De Bruyne doesn't seem to like the new handball rule 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/PAWWUZlVo9

No matter who it's intended for, the current interpretation of the handball law is putting defenders in greater jeopardy. The idea of incidental or unavoidable contact with the hand or arm negating a penalty decision is fast-becoming a thing of the past.

Of course, some would argue any time the ball striking a hand prevents a scoring chance the action should be flagged and duly punished.

While it's a reasonable argument, such a rigid interpretation of the rules leaves little to no room for quirks of fate and accidents of circumstance in a sport played at an increasingly high pace and dictated by the human element.