German football coaches demand a change of international hand-rules

An excessive amount of hand-penalties is causing a controversial debate in German club football.

Most Bundesliga club coaches demand a change of international rules after 29 penalties in 31 games have set a new record mark in the national leagues’ history since 1963.

Until the 2019/2020 season, 11.7 penalties were given on average per year over the 34 match-days. So far 23 penalties in the 1967/68 season stood for the maximum level. In 2012/2013 fans saw 20 hand-offenses sanctioned causing a shot from the “point.”

Fans, players, coaches, and club officials complain about in-transparent handling by referee’s that have to follow international rules since the 2017/2018 season.

Decisions are said to be completely random as referees don’t seem to follow a generally valid pattern.

“International rule makers have to overthink the current instructions. It seems decisions are made on an accidently basis. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Players don’t know how to act orderly; fans don’t know what is going on,” Moenchengladbach coach Dieter Hecking commented.

“We see players trying to defend with their hands and arms hidden behind their back. We can’t accept that, that’s not football,” Schalke 04 coach Huub Stevens complained while Dortmund coach Lucien Favre called the used ruling as “crazy” and “stupid.” The Swiss said rules makers are destroying football’s soul.

International regulations say rules are violated when players touch the ball on purpose with hand or arm while the distance between ball and offender has to be considered as well as the question if an active movement of arm or hand towards the ball is visible.

Most Bundesliga coaches say current handling is far from practical as natural movements are getting punished. Next to international rules additional characteristics can lead to a penalty such as players trying spreading their frame by using arm or hand.

“Confusing mess” is the most used phrase by players and coaches. They complain that “natural movements are classified as rule violations.” Touching the ball is not inevitably offending the rules they say. Coaches demand an internationally standardized pattern, knowing it can hardly be achieved due to the cases complexity.

Using video assistant surveillance is said to have increased the investigated issues, but still couldn’t create clarity.

“It is a challenge to solve the problem as you can hardly tell if it was a deliberate use of hands or arms,” Hecking stressed. “But it is inevitable for football’s future to find a solution applied for all games.”

Meanwhile, coaches and players are concerned unclear rules could lead to unusual reactions. “We will have four or five penalties per game when players might try to hit their opponents’ hands with the ball to create a penalty situation,” Bayern coach Niko Kovac assumed.

Bayer Leverkusen Peter Bosz suggested “to punish hand-play of any kind” to clear up things while Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann recommended only to react when a player is doing the goal-keepers’ job.

Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick suggested only to consider cases showing a player is trying to interrupt a goal-situation.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), responsible for international football rules, announced an update for June 2019. Expectations are said to be low that a satisfying solution can be achieved due to the complexity of the problem.

First hints say any involvements of hands and arms will inevitably lead to goal annulations no matter if made deliberately or by accident.