Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) group chief Howard Webb has given his verdict on last month’s controversial handball incident involving Martin Ødegaard.
Webb said on Michael Owen’s Match Officials Mic’d Up show, Webb had this to say about the decision:
PGMOL chief Howard Webb talks through VAR's decision to not award Liverpool a penalty for a possible handball against Arsenal's Martin Odegaard pic.twitter.com/xAOm6o4xLM— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 16, 2024
“The referee on the field recognised that Odegaard had slipped and saw his arm go to ground, we’ve talked in the past about supporting arms if somebody breaks their fall with the arm it’s very natural, and that’s a pretty well established concept.”
“In this situation, though there’s an important difference to a normal player that’s fallen, it’s not just Odegaard accidentally falling onto the ball. He does slip, the arm does go out, but he actually pulls his arm back in towards his body which is when the ball makes contact with the arm.”
“The VAR looked at it and thought it was a case of Odegaard trying to make himself smaller by bringing the arm back towards the body. That’s the element that’s important here - whether it’s instinctive or deliberate he gets a huge advantage by bringing the arm back towards the ball, and the feedback we got back was very clear; the game expects a penalty, in this situation. I would agree, and as such I think this was one that didn’t reach the right outcome.”
Dale Johnson of ESPN FC also reported that the independent panel had ruled 4-1 in favour of that incident being a penalty.
As expected, should have been a penalty. Vote was 4-1. https://t.co/GeDEkqMNAB— Dale Johnson (@DaleJohnsonESPN) January 16, 2024
It’s been a month, and I’ve totally forgotten about this, in no small part thanks to Liverpool FC banging in the goals and moving to the top of the table, but it’s nice to get some closure. It was always a penalty for me due to the swipe Ødegaard takes at the ball with his arm. I don’t think any reasonable person can argue that motion is part of a natural motion to stay up. That the chief of the PGMOL, an organisation infamously bad at recognising it’s made mistakes or apologising, has conceded that it was the wrong decision says a lot about this whole thing and should put the matter to rest.
However, I’m not the kind of guy to insist that Liverpool deliberately overwatered their pitch on purpose to ruin Arsenal’s passing game instead of recognising Anfield hosted three matches within the span of one week so...
Up the Reds. We move.