IT didn’t take long for hopes the new handball rule would prevent games from being overshadowed by penalty kick controversies to be replaced by very real fears that matches could descend into farce in future because of it being cynically exploited.

Typically, it was Scotland who fell foul of the new rule, which is being used in the Women’s World Cup in France this month, in their opening outing against England in Nice on Sunday evening.

Nicola Docherty was, after a VAR intervention, adjudged by referee Jana Adamkova to have had her arm in an unnatural position when she brushed a cross from Fran Kirby in her box early in the first-half. A spot kick was awarded which Nikita Parris netted.

By the letter of the new law, Adamkova was correct. Whether Docherty deliberately intended to handle the ball or did so inadvertently was irrelevant. What mattered was that she had made her body unnaturally bigger at the point of contact, that she had created a larger barrier than normal, that her arm was outside the “natural silhouette”.

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The new rule stipulates that having the hand or arm above shoulder height is very rarely a natural position and stresses that a player is taking a risk doing so except when they are deliberately playing the ball.

Robert Rossetti, the head of referees at UEFA, expanded on the thinking behind the change earlier this year. “When the arm is totally out of the body above the shoulder it should be penalised,” he said. “If the defender is making the body bigger in order to block the ball it is not fair.

“It is different if the defender is challenging or playing the ball and it rebounds. But if he is looking to block a cross or a shot on goal and the player is trying to spread his body then it is a handball.”

Shelley Kerr, inset, the Scotland women’s head coach, echoed the views of many in the game when she branded the decision “harsh” after the 2-1 defeat her side suffered in their opening Group D match in the Allianz Riviera.

Michael Stewart, the BBC pundit, agreed. He immediately took to Twitter to express his disgust. “Truly horrific decision from the officials there,” he posted. “Never a penalty. FIFA can try and change the handball rule as much as they like, but if it’s not deliberate how can you punish someone?”

You could understand their unhappiness. Docherty was straining desperately to block the Kirby cross with her outstretched leg when she handled. Is it really unnatural for a player to have an arm raised above their shoulder when they are exerting themselves physically like that in the heat of the battle? Doesn’t doing so provide necessary balance?

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However, Erin Cuthbert, the Scotland forward, was of the opinion her team mate had been in the wrong and had no complaints. “If you put your hands up, you always leave yourself with a risk,” she said. “These things happen in football.” You rarely if ever get a consensus, even among those on the same side, in such situations.

Greater clarity, something that IFAB had been keen to achieve when amending the laws of the game, may well have been provided. The whys and wherefores of a handball are now not the issue. If the arm is raised above shoulder height then the culprit has no comeback. Whether it is fair or not is another matter.

But the change has created another concern. What are the chances of seeing a growing number of players purposely kicking the ball at the arm of an unwitting opponent in the penalty box next season in order to try and win spot kicks? I would suggest it is, like Docherty’s arm at the weekend, quite high. The game could change immeasurably as a result. And not for the better either. As one commentator predicted “there could be chaos next season”.

A defender pointing out an opposition attacker who requires to be marked to one of his team mates as a free-kick is about to be played into his area – something which happens in every match – is leaving themselves open to a crafty opponent taking a pot shot at him or her. How would Peter Grant survive in the modern game? Seriously, though, the new handball rule will dramatically change the focus of teams and potentially even make a mockery of some games.

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Will referees, too, be able to implement the new rule without the assistance of VAR? Adamkova certainly required a lengthy look at a variety of replays before giving England their penalty against Scotland.

There have unquestionably been some positive and common sense changes made to a rule that has long been too ambiguous. For example, if the ball touches a player’s arm or hand immediately after it has struck their body then no free-kick or penalty award is now given by the match official. The same applies if a player is falling, puts out their arm to protect themselves and the ball touches it.

Would Liverpool have been awarded that highly contentious penalty in the very first minute of the Champions League final against Spurs in Madrid at the start of the month if the new rule had been in place? Almost certainly not. Sadio Mane’s sly chip hit Moussa Sissoko’s chest first and then his arm.

Debate raged over whether a spot kick should have been given – not least in the BT Sport studio where Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen and former referee Peter Walton were all at odds with Glenn Hoddle – afterwards. Was it intentional? Was his arm in an unnatural position? Was it an unexpected ball?

Hopefully, such wearisome debates will be fewer when the new handball rule is rolled out across the game. Just don’t expect it to cure all of football’s ills. It could very well create as many problems as it solves.