"Horrific"; Michael Stewart left fuming by Celtic Park VAR call

By John McGinley

November 5, 2022

BBC Sportsound pundit Michael Stewart is adamant that the penalty given to Dundee United at Celtic Park today shouldn’t have been, citing the laws of the game as they stand.

Alexandro Bernabei was deemed to have handled the ball in the box, allowing the away side to net an equaliser from the spot through Steven Fletcher.

Bernabei’s arm didn’t seem to be in an unnatural position, with the ball striking his arm behind his own back as he jumped for a cross.

Photo by Patrick Goosen/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland [15:50 & 17:07], Stewart was left perplexed by the official’s decision to award the penalty, stating: “I can’t believe you guys in the studio are not more incredulous about that handball at Celtic Park. I’ve just seen that and that is absolutely horrific from the officials. How can you give a penalty against Bernabei for that? Clueless. That is horrific.”

After the match, he continued: “I read the law out to you before, tell me how that’s a penalty? His arm is up there because of the way he jumped. It’s not a penalty. That’s the law.

“They don’t understand the law, they see an arm is out there and it’s got to be a penalty kick. The law explains quite clearly that’s not a penalty kick. I don’t care if the officials deemed it a penalty kick or not, I’ve just explained the law, tell me how that’s a penalty?”

Left arguing with Kenny Macintyre and Stephen Thompson, Stewart made it quite clear that as the rules state there is little case for Bernabei and Celtic to be punished. This was a stance that fellow pundit Leeanne Crichton agreed with.

Ultimately the penalty didn’t cost Celtic any points today with the Bhoys persevering to win the game late on 4-2, but with Ange Postecoglou also concerned about interpretations of the handball rule, there are lots of problems to iron out on this issue.

Consistency is the least we should expect from officials.

In other news, “They need to clarify”; Ange Postecoglou reacts to dramatic Celtic win over Dundee United and VAR call.