West Ham midfielder Declan Rice says no Premier League players want the Video Assistant Referee system used after his side were denied a late equaliser at Sheffield United.
Robert Snodgrass’ injury-time effort was ruled out by VAR because the ball struck Rice’s arm in the build-up. Hammers boss David Moyes also insisted the goal, which would have made the score 1-1, should have counted.
“We are fuming. All the lads are livid,” said England midfielder Rice.
The law regarding handball states any goal scored or created with the use of the hand or arm will be disallowed “even if it is accidental”.
Rice, speaking to Sky Sports, added: “I’ve just watched it back. He has knocked the ball into my hand. If you are running with your arms like that with the rules as they are now it is handball, but it is not intentional. It is a kick in the teeth.
“I think they are the thoughts of every Premier League player, not just me – pretty much everyone doesn’t want VAR in the game. There have been so many decisions this season that have been absolutely crazy. They were celebrating VAR like it was a goal and football should not be like that.”
Moyes, who suffered his first defeat since returning as West Ham manager, says it was “a really good goal”.
“Anybody who has played football or been around the game knows it was a good goal,” he told BBC Sport. “From my point of view, and the people who watch football, the decision is not right. I wouldn’t say I’m a great fan [of VAR] but we having to come to terms with it. People who have played football know when it’s not right and tonight is one of those situations.”
Moyes added: “Whoever checked it I think got it wrong because it was a really good bit of play by Declan Rice – where would you put your hands, tie them behind your back?”
‘Blame the handball law, not VAR’
The handball law was changed after some high-profile goals were scored by the accidental use of a hand last season. Former England striker Michael Owen says players should “stop lazily blaming VAR for everything” as it “simply enforces these new rule changes”.
However, on Twitter he said the new handball rule is “an absolute joke”.
“Try teaching a kid the handball rule,” said Owen. “It now depends on where you are on the pitch, whether the attacking or defending team handles it, sometimes whether it’s intentional and sometimes not. We’ve now got a variety of handball rules, which is madness.”
Is new handball rule spot-on or misguided?
Moyes says there is a movement to change the handball rule and believes the International Football Association Board (IFAB) should be looking at the law.
“At the moment there is a big campaign to try and change this ruling,” he said. “You could say they are trying to change the offside rule as well.
“There are lots of things we are not comfortable with. There is part of it where it can hit another defenders’ arm and it won’t count as a penalty kick.
“I would be surprised if people in IFAB weren’t ex-managers or ex-players but it looks like it is a law that nobody is really enjoying that much.”
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville says it is a law he does not think “any professional footballer current or former wants in the game”.
“VAR is nothing to do with that goal. I am not defending VAR but it spots it and applies the rule of the game,” said the former Manchester United and England defender.
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder, whose side have had more goals ruled out by VAR than other Premier League team this season, has been a critic of the system.
“I feel for David [Moyes] and the players. The same thing has happened to us a few times,” he said. “Soon as they scored, no-one was looking at it but I felt for the opposition – it’s the same moans and groans as we’ve had in the past.”