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Manchester United

Explained: Why didn't VAR overturn controversial Man Utd handball against Real Sociedad?

1:08 AM GMT+4 09/09/2022
Lisandro Martinez handball
Manchester United conceded a controversial penalty as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Real Sociedad in their Europa League group stage opener.
  • Ball struck Martinez's hand via leg deflection
  • VAR verified original decision
  • Manchester United lost 1-0

WHAT HAPPENED? David Silva fired a shot from inside the box and the ball bounced up off Lisandro Martinez's leg and onto his arm. Despite the incident being reviewed, the original decision to award a spot kick stood and Brais Mendez converted. Manchester United argued it should not have been a handball because it struck a legal body part before touching Martinez's arm, and his arm was in a natural position.

WHAT THEY SAID: The laws of the game state it is only handball if a player "touches the ball with their hand/arm when it has made their body unnaturally bigger. A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation." Thus, it was deemed Martinez's arm was in an unnatural position just before and during the contact - though that interpretation in this case has been widely viewed as suspect.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: This is the latest in a long line of decisions that have led to criticism about the use of VAR, with support growing for the technology to be reformed.

STORY IN TWO PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR MAN UTD? After faltering in Europe, Manchester United are currently scheduled to return to Premier League action on Monday night when they travel to Crystal Palace. However, that game could be cancelled following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.