Militão did nothing against the spirit of the game

Let’s rewind the tape: according to the Old Testament the rules were simple. You play football with your feet and a few regulations were in place to punish any attempt to thumb your nose at the spirit of the game. For neophytes the offside rule was a complex issue but it eventually became understood. A deliberate handball is a serious offence, the rules stated, a basic affront to the decency of the game. An involuntary handball is accidental. An arm left to fly cunningly to occupy space. In my youth Atlético defender Jorge Griffa did this with singular success, leaping in the form of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. More recently at Real Madrid, Michel Salgado perfected the art of jumping in with his elbow raised in an unnatural position.

Referees learned to spot and penalize these ploys, which flew in the face of the spirit of the game. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) issued circulars to match officials on the subject. Recently, the neo-Adamian leanings of a benighted group led by David Elleray attempted to replace the referee’s criteria with an impossible catalogue of handball situations. From there emerged an incomprehensible table of logarithms for the players, which is even harder to fathom for the fans. The end result of this meddling is that today a brilliant, measured man with his entire life steeped in football, as is Zinedine Zidane, doesn’t know what a handball is. Or better put, he doesn’t know why Exhibit A is considered a handball while Exhibit B is not.

VAR adding mockery to absurdity

Éder Militão did nothing against the rules or the spirit of the game during the 2-2 draw between Real Madrid and Sevilla. His arm was in a natural position when he jumped: there is little less natural than jumping with your hands stuck to your hips. But the delirium in which we find ourselves is such that an action like this is punishable with a penalty. We made compromises with cretinous issues like playing the ball backwards from kick-off and we have ended up with this, on top of VAR, which adds mockery to absurdity. This summer the rules are set to change again: the handball decision against Militão will no longer be deemed a handball. The problem is that David Elleray and others who suffer from mental diarrhea will still be at the IFAB, ruining the inheritance they were entrusted with.