'It's simple!' - Dermot Gallagher issues lengthy verdict on PSG vs Newcastle United controversy

AFP via Getty Images
Dermot Gallagher has weighed in on the controversial handball decision that cost Newcastle United in Paris.

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher has weighed in on the controversy that saw Newcastle United miss out on two huge points in Paris on Tuesday night. The Magpies led against PSG until the 96th minute, when an extremely-harsh penalty was awarded for an alleged handball.

The ball hit Tino Livramento in the chest and then hit his hand which, by rule, is not a handball due to the fact the ball hit another body part that was not a foot or a head before hitting the hand. When the ball hits another body part in that way, it is automatically deemed accidental when it hits an arm or a hand.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Despite that, a penalty was awarded, and Kylian Mbappe scored it, putting Newcastle back on the back foot going into their last game, against AC Milan in two weeks. On the back if the incident, UEFA has dropped the VAR team in charge on the night for the next round of fixtures, and former Premier League referee Gallagher is not surprised. “I think the fact the VAR has been stood down this morning speaks volumes," he told Sky Sports.

“It’s just not a penalty, is it? If that was given in the Premier League, the media would be on it for a month. It was incredible. And why it was incredible is that this guy is a top referee, there’s no doubt about that. If you watch the game, he was faultless for 96, 97 minutes.

“He’s then been alerted to something by someone else, which he hasn’t given on-field – quite rightly. I really don’t know what he’s seen to change his mind on the screen. When I was watching it, I was quite confident he’d say no, walk away and stick to his guns.

“When you’re sent to the screen, and the VAR thinks you’ve made a clear and obvious error, that’s the key issue. That must play on your mind – have I missed something? But you’ve got to be mindful going to the screen too that you’re the one making the decision, you retain all options.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“He could’ve said no, in my opinion it struck him. He’s running through his list of considerations – is it a deliberate handball? Certainly not. Has it come from a short distance at speed? Certainly yes. Is his arm in an un-natural position? Definitely not because he’s in a running motion. But the key one is – has it come off his body? It hits his chest before his elbow, and the distance between that is almost touching both. He’s got no chance of getting out of the way.

“It’s simple! That four-point checklist, the first one was no, second no, third no, fourth definitely no. It’s definitely a deflection so it can’t be handball. I know it’s got to tick one of those to be a penalty, but it doesn’t tick any. Every single box has got a cross in it."

Gallagher continued: "Miley’s handball, which wasn’t given as a penalty, was only different in terms of the outcome. It deflected off his thigh, bounced up, and you see it all the time when there’s appeals in the Premier League but you see it’s come off his thigh and say no. I remember the famous one at Newcastle with Arsenal, where the referee went to the VAR and changed his mind because he saw the deflection, which he hadn’t seen at real speed.

“Last night the referee saw it at real speed, said it wasn’t a penalty and quite rightly carried on. You have the laws of the game, you can’t pick and choose them. They’re there, then there’s the considerations for want of a better word, these options. That’s your guidelines. Referees don’t have time to go through that on the pitch, it just becomes instinctive. You see that, in their head they know it, whether it’s a penalty or not. Newcastle have asked for the observations of UEFA, but whether that becomes public I don’t know. Without doubt they’ll ask for an explanation.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.