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Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher on Newcastle defender Tino Livramento's handball: 'It's just not a penalty'

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher: "The fact the VAR has been stood down speaks volumes. It's just not a penalty, is it? If that was given in the Premier League, the media would be on it for a month. I really don't know what he's seen to change his mind on the screen."

The ball struck the arm of Newcastle's Tino Livramento resulting in a penalty kick to Paris Saint-Germain
Image: The ball struck the arm of Newcastle's Tino Livramento resulting in a penalty kick to Paris Saint-Germain

Dermot Gallagher says Polish referee Szymon Marciniak should have been stronger against VAR following the controversial stoppage-time penalty given against Newcastle for handball by Tino Livramento in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Newcastle looked to be heading for a famous 1-0 win against PSG at the Parc des Princes until match official Marciniak awarded a spot-kick against Livramento after a VAR review - allowing Kylian Mbappe to level in the eighth and final minute of added time.

Speaking on Soccer Special, former Spurs manager Tim Sherwood labelled the decision "disgusting" while Newcastle boss Eddie Howe also said referee Marciniak should have been stronger to disregard VAR Tomasz Kwiatkowski's advice.

Kwiatkowski was due to be the VAR in Wednesday's Champions League game between Real Sociedad and Salzburg but has now been replaced, Sky Sports News understands.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, former Premier League referee Gallagher gave his thoughts in full on yet another controversial VAR decision in A Ref Watch special!

'It's just not a penalty, is it?!'

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Tim Sherwood and the Soccer Special panel are incensed as PSG are awarded a late penalty for an apparent handball from Tino Livramento.

I think the fact the VAR has been stood down this morning speaks volumes.

It's just not a penalty, is it? If that was given in the Premier League, the media would be on it for a month.

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It was incredible. And why it was incredible is that this guy is a top referee, there's no doubt about that. If you watch the game, he was faultless for 96, 97 minutes.

He's then been alerted to something by someone else, which he hasn't given on-field - quite rightly. I really don't know what he's seen to change his mind on the screen.

'Ref should've been strong against VAR'

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Newcastle manager Eddie Howe says VAR's decision to award a penalty to PSG was 'poor' after it cost his side a famous victory and left their Champions League hopes out of their hands.

When I was watching it, I was quite confident he'd say no, walk away and stick to his guns.

When you're sent to the screen, and the VAR thinks you've made a clear and obvious error, that's the key issue. That must play on your mind - have I missed something?

But you've got to be mindful going to the screen too that you're the one making the decision, you retain all options.

He could've said no, in my opinion it struck him. He's running through his list of considerations - is it a deliberate handball? Certainly not. Has it come from a short distance at speed? Certainly yes. Is his arm in an un-natural position? Definitely not because he's in a running motion.

But the key one is - has it come off his body? It hits his chest before his elbow, and the distance between that is almost touching both. He's got no chance of getting out of the way.

'It should've been simple! Deflection means no penalty'

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Sky Sports News reporter Keith Downie reflects on Newcastle's 1-1 draw at PSG, where Kylian Mbappe equalised with a late penalty after a controversial VAR review.

It's simple! That four-point checklist, the first one was no, second no, third no, fourth definitely no.

It's definitely a deflection so it can't be handball. I know it's got to tick one of those to be a penalty, but it doesn't tick any. Every single box has got a cross in it.

Miley's handball, which wasn't given as a penalty, was only different in terms of the outcome. It deflected off his thigh, bounced up, and you see it all the time when there's appeals in the Premier League but you see it's come off his thigh and say no.

I remember the famous one at Newcastle with Arsenal, where the referee went to the VAR and changed his mind because he saw the deflection, which he hadn't seen at real speed.

Last night the referee saw it at real speed, said it wasn't a penalty and quite rightly carried on.

Are rules applied differently in PL to CL?

SSN handball graphic

You have the laws of the game, you can't pick and choose them. They're there, then there's the considerations for want of a better word, these options.

That's your guidelines. Referees don't have time to go through that on the pitch, it just becomes instinctive. You see that, in their head they know it, whether it's a penalty or not.

Newcastle have asked for the observations of UEFA, but whether that becomes public I don't know. Without doubt they'll ask for an explanation.

'Handball should be easiest law'

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Newcastle United's Nick Pope gives his opinion on the penalty given against his side during their Champions League match at PSG.

It's really spooky, I talk to Rob [Wotton] all the time and say in the directives for handball, it says this is the easiest law to apply.

But it's the one we've spoken about most this season. My friend Alan Wiley (former Premier League referee) has a brilliant idea of refereeing. He says keep it safe, keep it simple.

That's the thing. Don't try to be too complicated, and it'll look after itself.

What is the handball law?

IFAB, who set out the laws of world football, have laid out guidelines on what does and doesn't constitute a handball offence - though leagues also have their own individual interpretations, which you can read below.

More generally, for the purposes of determining handball offences, the upper boundary of the arm is in line with the bottom of the armpit. Not every touch of a player's hand/arm with the ball is an offence.

Are UEFA's rules different from individual leagues?

Every league, competition and governing body has its own guidelines on how to interpret the laws of the game and ahead of the 2023/24 season, UEFA moved to try and limit the giving of handball offences in regards to deflections, as well as the punishment for yellow and red cards shown for handball.

UEFA's guidelines say "no handball offence should be called on a player if the ball is previously deflected from his own body, and, in particular, when the ball does not go towards the goal." However, this was only a recommendation from the UEFA Football Board, which includes coaches and former players like England boss Gareth Southgate, former England defender Rio Ferdinand and ex-Wales star Gareth Bale, and was never formally ratified.

The guidelines also say "not every handball should automatically lead to a caution after every shot at goal, as anticipated by the current guidelines."

It is an offence if a player:

  • deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball
  • 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. By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised
  • scores in the opponents' goal: Directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper or immediately after the ball has touched their hand/arm, even if accidental

'Sin-bins should be a deterrent rather than punishment'

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher:

"Sin-bins have already been running for four years in local leagues - the village I live in, their team operates to those guidelines. It's reduced dissent amazingly.

"Players would accept a yellow card for mouthing off to the referee but their teammates won't accept being down to 10 men for 10 minutes - it makes a massive impact to them.

"It's a little bit different in local parks but how do you keep a professional player warm and up to match speed for that 10 minutes?

"I would like to see this as a deterrent rather than a punishment."

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