Ryan Mason says handball rule is putting players' careers at risk

"My fear is the safety of the players. You're going to get guys challenging not using their arms and almost leading with their head"

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Ryan Mason says the new handball rule is putting players' careers at risk

Former Tottenham and England midfielder Ryan Mason says the current interpretation of the handball rule is a danger to players' safety.

Mason was forced to retire after fracturing his skull in a clash of heads with Gary Cahill while playing for Hull City in 2017.

He is concerned the "ridiculous" handball rule increases the risk of similar injuries because defenders are being forced to jump without using their arms.

Mason told Sky Sports News: "I didn't feel like [the handball rule] was ever an issue. I know the game moves forward and there are always changes.

"VAR has been brought in, goalline technology - they have definitely helped the game when used in the right way. We're still in a process with that.

"But this handball rule is actually affecting the game.

Micah Richards and Michael Dawson shared their frustration after a penalty decision went against Tottenham's Eric Dier, whereas Graeme Souness says he feels the handball rule can add excitement to the game

"You're almost asking defenders to not move in a natural way. I'm probably quite passionate about it because I lost my career and almost my life due to the fact that someone challenged me in a way that wasn't correct. They didn't use their arms as leverage.

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"You're taught as a kid to jump with your arms and to protect yourself and there have been penalties given where arms were in natural positions but the ball has hit them from a yard away.

"My fear is the safety of the players. You're going to get guys challenging not using their arms and almost leading with their head. That's not good for the game."

Andy Carroll heads the ball against the arm of Eric Dier 4:53
Jamie Carragher and Roy Keane look back at a number of controversial decisions from the weekend's Premier League action regarding the new handball rule

Mason, now a coach in Tottenham's academy, is among a number of former players to voice their disapproval.

Jamie Carragher described the rule as "an absolute disgrace, an absolute joke" and Mason feels it has overshadowed the exciting start to the Premier League season.

"I feel it's affecting the game in a negative way, and any kind of technology and change of rule should actually be helping the game," he said.

"But secondly, I'm probably a bit more sensitive as I've gone through a first-hand experience of being on the end of a certain type of challenge.

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The rules surrounding handballs in the penalty area are forcing defenders to change the way they play, according to Partick Thistle right-back Richard Foster

"I wouldn't want to see a defender or attacker change his heading technique because of a rule, and then ultimately have a knock-on effect and put players in danger.

"The Premier League is a brand. It is one of the most watched leagues in the world and attracts so many great players. At the moment these handballs are a massive talking point in a negative way.

"There has been such great football with lots of goals, it's been so exciting even without the fans, but the main thing we're talking about is a rule that ultimately shouldn't be there at the moment."

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