Explained: Why VAR didn't award Chelsea a penalty for obvious Tomas Soucek handball that left ex-referee Peter Walton dismayed
- Soucek stopped ball with hand
- Referee did not award penalty
- VAR did not flag as handball
WHAT HAPPENED? Conor Gallagher's shot from the edge of the box was stopped by Soucek, who slid in and diverted it with his hand. The Chelsea players appealed for a spot kick but the referee dismissed their calls and VAR did not intervene to flag it as a penalty.
Chelsea players thought they had a penalty for handball, but VAR says no… 📺 pic.twitter.com/popnClPiUj— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 11, 2023
No handball was given on this shot from Conor Gallagher.— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) February 11, 2023
📺: @USANetwork #MyPLMorning | #WHUCHE pic.twitter.com/ICjOCKphpl
WHY WASN'T IT GIVEN? It seems that VAR decided Soucek's hand was in a natural position and did not make his body bigger, so it was not deemed a deliberate handball.
WHAT THEY SAID: Former referee Peter Walton said the decision was wrong, however, insisting it should have been a penalty. He said on BT Sport: "The law is quite clear, it actually says unnaturally bigger. VAR clearly thinks the arm was in a natural position to break his fall. When you analyse it, you can see it's past his knee and then he decides. For me, it's deliberate and I'm disappointed VAR did not give the referee the opportunity to have a second look."
The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Gianfranco Zola and Joe Cole were all left equally baffled, with the former Manchester United defender going as far as saying it was a "great save" by the West Ham midfielder!
IN TWO PHOTOS:
Fans, players and pundits alike were left outraged as to how this wasn't given as handball!
Yes, that was a clear handball from Soucek, even the leg movement to push himself towards the ball should have made it obvious enough for a VAR check pic.twitter.com/d1TNKRZViO— Has the Referee or VAR made a poor decision? (@PoorEPLreferees) February 11, 2023
And it's obvious what Enzo Fernandez thinks!
THE BIGGER PICTURE: The incident came immediately after VAR correctly ruled out a late winning goal for West Ham. Soucek thought he had given the home team a 2-1 lead but a lengthy review saw it disallowed for an offside. In the end, the decision not to award what appeared an obvious spot-kick for the Blues moments later proved to be the difference between them taking just a point and all three, with Graham Potter under increasing pressure after another opportunity was missed to get back on track.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CHELSEA: After their third consecutive draw in the Premier League, Chelsea will turn to Champions League duty as they visit Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday for the first leg of their last-16 tie.