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IFAB changes accidental handball rules after Fulham controversy

Accidental handballs that lead to a teammate either scoring or having a chance to score a goal will no longer be considered an offence in football, the game’s law-making body said on Friday.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) made the announcement in a statement that also clarified the sport’s handball rules in other situations.

The ruling comes a day after Fulham’s Josh Maja saw his effort harshly disallowed for a handball by Mario Lemina in his side’s 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

Scott Parker’s team sit in the Premier League relegation zone, three points from safety.

IFAB, which is composed of members from the Football Associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as FIFA delegates, also said that referees were to “use their judgement” with regards to the position of a player’s arm or hands when the ball touches them before whistling for handball.

“As the interpretation of handball incidents has not always been consistent due to incorrect applications of the Law, the members confirmed that not every touch of a player’s hand/arm with the ball is an offence,” the statement said.

One of the key controversies over handball in recent seasons has been over what constitutes an unnatural position for a player’s arm to be in when a ball strikes it.

“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.”

The rulings came after IFAB’s annual general meeting, held by videoconference on Friday.

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