The IFAB rule that shows up Livingston boss after his Celtic moaning

By David Walton

March 7, 2022

Livingston manager David Martindale had plenty to say about Celtic’s 3-1 win over his side at the Tony Macaroni Arena yesterday.

Indeed, whilst acknowledging Celtic’s superiority, he was left moaning at goals number 1 and 2 by the Hoops. The first he had a legitimate reason to be frustrated after the corner that Celtic scored from clearly came off Anthony Ralston beforehand.

However, for the second, it turns out he has nothing to stand on. Martindale told Sky Sports that Tom Rogic “caught” the ball in the build-up to Nicky Devlin’s own goal. This came after the ball bounced off the Celtic man’s hand as we pressed forward.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

But the truth is that this isn’t something that would’ve been disallowed under official IFAB guidance. Indeed, according to their official Laws of the Game [IFAB, Laws of the Game, 12.1], it states the following:

“It is an offence if a player deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball.

“It is an offence if a player touches the ball with their hand/arm when it has made their body unnaturally bigger. A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation. By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised.”

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Tom Rogic handball doesn’t fall into any of these categories

Firstly, can we honestly say that Rogic purposefully handled the ball? Of course it wasn’t deliberate, so there goes that argument.

Secondly, did Rogic make himself unnaturally bigger? And if so, was it justifiable by his body movement for the situation? The truth is it doesn’t matter, because Rogic didn’t make himself bigger at all. The incident takes place directly in front of him and it just turns into a bit of a scramble.

We can make up interpretations of the rules all we want. Everyone will have a different view of what constitutes a foul by handball. But according to the IFAB rules, Rogic did absolutely nothing wrong yesterday.

Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images

Granted, that will be difficult for many to accept. We know how much easier it is to just moan about referees and make it out as if Celtic are benefitting from decisions instead of just accepting how good we are. We expect all of that.

But it’s important to put all of this into context. Yes, you can argue that our penalty was fortuitous. You can even complain about our opening goal too, even if there was still plenty of work to do from the corner. But questioning the second alls flat on its face.

Rogic didn’t handle the ball in a way that would constitute a foul. There’s really nothing else to debate here.

In other news, Report: Neil Lennon set for surprising post-Celtic move after 13 months out of management