It’s rare for football fans to be in unanimous agreement.
Though the criticism of the new enforcement of handball has been universal.
After two game weeks, we’ve already seen Wolves and Man City denied big wins after a VAR referral deemed the decisive strikes benefited from contact with an arm.
Leander Dendoncker thought he had beaten Leicester with an opportunistic strike during the opening weekend only to be heartbroken when it was ruled out because the ball had initially ricocheted off Willy Boly’s bicep.
A week later, Man City suffered a cruel deja vu when their late winner at home to Spurs was stricken off by those at Stockley Park.
Gabriel Jesus’ composed winner was facilitated by a diversion off Aymeric Laporte’s forearm.
What was noticeable about both incidents was the lack of opposition protest.
Not one Leicester or Spurs player appealed to the referee for handball.
That’s because in any other season these ‘handballs’ would have been accepted as a consequence of playing a high-tempo sport while in possession of limbs.
In real time, it was difficult to even register the ball had struck an arm.
But the powers that be have decided all goals that result from any handball (no matter how slight or unintentional) should be disallowed.
This new interpretation jars with the nature of the sport – as any Proper Football Man™ will tell you – but don’t we deserve this punishment?
Football’s popularity has made it big business — in terms of both money and emotion.
It’s been evident for some time that the seriousness with which we regard the beautiful game has resulted in unwanted byproducts.
Toxic tribalism, corruption, racism… for all its glory, football has its cancers.
General mistreatment of officials is another blemish the sport has struggled to remove in recent years.
The respect officials in other team sports (rugby, cricket, hockey) command shames football.
There are endless examples of fans, pundits, players, coaches and owners savaging referees and assistants for marginal decisions.
As the sport warped under the weight of hyperbole, we expected officials to be faultless and held them personally accountable for the distribution of high stakes.
Referees were blamed for the false allocation of trophies, for unjustified relegations.
And so VAR was introduced, along with new incredibly literal interpretations of previously subjective laws, in an attempt to make the game more objective and fair.
The result so far has been a distillation of emotion and a departure from the intended shape or flow of the sport — sanitation, sterilisation.
But you can understand why this has happened.
The same people who used to yell at linesman (you f***king blind c**t!) for missing a half-yard offside are now complaining the game has been ruined by following the rules too closely.
We’re all at fault for taking football too seriously — the rule-makers and officiators have simply responded.
This is a mess of our own making.