Newcastle United Champions League handball: Lawmakers must think about why rules exist before tinkering again - Stuart Rayner

This week the body which writes football’s rules, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), announced more tinkering around the edges of laws which have changed so often in recent years, referees’ heads must be spinning.

Then, hours later, the game piped up to highlight one of the issues which actually needs changing.

IFAB's proposals to extend trials of “sin bins” beyond grassroots football are well-meaning and might work. The idea of only having captains speak to referees on behalf of teams might have been a good one if English football had not tried it and quietly abandoned it years ago.

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When it comes to the basics, football seems to have forgotten why its rules were introduced in the first place.

So Newcastle United’s Champions League group game at Paris Saint Germain was decided by a penalty anyone who loves the game knows should not have been given.

When Ousmane Dembele's cross bounced up off Tino Livramento's chest and onto his arm and the goal from Kylian Mbappe, pictured, not only changed the result – to 1-1 – but the whole final-week permutations.

This week it was Newcastle, next week it could be your club, or Sunday League team.

Why have the rules got like this?

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TURNING POINT: Ousmane Dembele (obscured) appeals for a penalty against Tino LivramentoTURNING POINT: Ousmane Dembele (obscured) appeals for a penalty against Tino Livramento
TURNING POINT: Ousmane Dembele (obscured) appeals for a penalty against Tino Livramento

Once upon a time, handball was about stopping people from cheating, just like offside was meant to be about stopping goalhanging.

Now it seems rules are being reframed to make life easier for video assistant referees. Extending their powers at a time when every weekend feels like another reason to bin VAR altogether and allowing them more scope to reverse their own mistakes were also on the IFAB agenda.

Fair enough, you might say, if your footballing world was so small it only took in the elite level.

But the laws apply from park pitches to the Parc des Princes and the overwhelming majority of those matches do not have video cameras double-checking referees.

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The laws should be accessible and understandable to those who play at all levels with the sole aim of making the game better – not someone in a television studio's life easier.

Watching Tuesday’s penalty, or players penalised for jumping with their arms up it would be lovely to see IFAB lay on a coaching session to explain how they are supposed to run, jump and avoid crosses thumped at them from a yard within the rules.

It took a 1990 World Cup stultifying for those not swept up in the excitement of England remembering how to play a major tournament for the offside laws to be refined from an era where back fours stepped forward in a line, arms aloft, to win cheap free-kicks. Level became onside, the benefit of the doubt switched to attackers and those not interfering with play were ignored.

Now the tide has turned back, VAR looking for a hair out of place to allow them to scrub off a goal.

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Nobody wants this finickety fiddling, reducing the game to an academic exercise in how to find fault with a goal, rather just letting football be played in the spirit it should be.

It is about time IFAB thought a bit more about that.