Howard Webb admits Liverpool should have had a penalty for Martin Odegaard handball in Arsenal clash

The Professional Game Match Officials Limited [PGMOL] Chief, Howard Webb has admitted there was a mistake with Martin Odegaard’s handball against Liverpool.

The incident occurred in the December 23 Premier League clash at Anfield, and could well have cost the Reds points in their quest for the title.

The match ended 1-1, with the controversial moment happening in the 26th minute while the Gunners were a goal ahead.

Mohamed Salah picked up a loose ball from a free kick, and tried to enter the Arsenal penalty area, only to have his path blocked by Odegaard.

Replays showed that the ball quite clearly hit the Norwegian’s arm, but he had slipped in the same movement.

Referee Chris Kavanagh initially waved away the penalty shouts, and during an edition of Match Officials: Mic’d Up, the referee can be heard saying ‘his hands on the floor’ as his reasoning for not awarding Liverpool a spot kick.

The VAR is then heard saying: “For me, he’s falling down, he’s moving his arm towards him, so it’s check complete for me.”

The assistant VAR then says: “From the brief look I’ve seen, yeah agreed.”

Responding to the clip, Webb agreed with Michael Owen that it should have been a penalty, but explained the matchday officials’ rationale.

“The referee on the field recognised that Odegaard had slipped and saw his arm go towards the ground,” he began.

“We’ve talked in the past about supporting arms, if somebody falls and breaks their fall with their arm it’s all very natural and that’s a well-established concept.

“In this situation though there’s an important difference to a normal player falling, this is not just Odegaard accidentally falling to the ball. He does slip, his arm does go out, but then he pulls his arm back in towards his body which is when the ball makes contact with the arm.”

Webb continued: “The VAR looked at that aspect and thought it was a case of Odegaard trying to make himself smaller by bringing the arm back towards the body, but that’s the element that I think is important here, whether it’s instinctive or deliberate, he gets a huge advantage by bringing his arm back towards the ball.

“I think all the feedback we got afterwards was clear that was people expected a penalty and I would agree and as such this was one that didn’t reach the right outcome.”



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