Liverpool should have been awarded a penalty for handball by Martin Odegaard in their Premier League draw against Arsenal, Howard Webb has said.
Webb, the head of Professional Game Match Official Ltd (PGMOL), appeared to contradict the initial position of his own organisation after last month’s top-of-the-table clash over referee Chris Kavanagh and video assistant referee (VAR) David Coote’s failure to give a spot-kick.
According to Sky Sports, which showed the match, PGMOL stated at the time that a penalty had not been given because “Odegaard’s arm is moving towards the body and not the ball as he goes down”.
But Webb said on the organisation’s monthly Match Officials Mic’d Up programme on Tuesday: “The on-field referee recognised Odegaard had slipped and saw his arm go towards the ground. We’ve talked in the past about supporting arms if someone falls or breaks their fall with their arm. It’s a pretty well-established concept.
PGMOL chief Howard Webb talks through VAR's decision to not award Liverpool a penalty for a possible handball against Arsenal's Martin Odegaard 👇 pic.twitter.com/xAOm6o4xLM
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 16, 2024
“In this situation, though, there’s an important difference to a normal player that’s fallen. This is not just Odegaard accidentally falling onto the ball. His arm does go out but then he pulls his arm back in towards his body which is when the ball makes contact with his arm.
“The feedback we got back afterwards was very clear. The game expects a penalty in this situation and I would agree. As such, this one did not reach the right outcome on that basis.”
It is the second time this season Premier League leaders Liverpool have been on the wrong end of a major mistake in a crucial game in which they have ended up dropping points.
They were also at the centre of the competition’s worst VAR crisis when they had a goal wrongly disallowed in their only defeat of the season, September’s 2-1 loss at Tottenham Hotspur.
Liverpool are currently two points clear of champions Manchester City after 20 matches.