Football’s law-makers have suggested that the Premier League are not using the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system correctly by reiterating that it should only be used to correct “clear and obvious” errors, and should not be relied upon to try and pinpoint marginal offside calls that require lengthy stoppages to identify.
The weekend’s Premier League action was blighted by a number of controversial and time-sapping VAR reviews, which resulted in five goals being ruled out across the 10 games staged over Saturday and Sunday.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crystal Palace, Norwich City, Brighton and Hove Albion and Sheffield United all found themselves on the end of VAR decisions that left players, managers and fans calling for immediate change to the way the Premier League is using VAR, but the International Football Association Board (Ifab) who govern the sport’s regulations have insisted there will be no changes to the system for the foreseeable future.
Instead, they will contact those competitions who rely on the use of VAR with to reissue guidelines that have already been made clear in something akin to a reminder rather than an update, though this is unlikely to come before the next Ifab annual general meeting which takes place at the end of February.
But the body did suggest that the way the Premier League is currently using VAR for offsides – which has seen goals ruled out for armpits or toes being ruled beyond the last defender – is not what the system was brought in to achieve.
“Clear and obvious still remains – it’s an important principle. There should not be a lot of time spent to find something marginal,” Lukas Brud, Ifab’s general secretary, told the Press Association.
“If something is not clear on the first sight, then it’s not obvious and it shouldn’t be considered. Looking at one camera angle is one thing but looking at 15, trying to find something that was potentially not even there, this was not the idea of the VAR principle. It should be clear and obvious.”
The reminder of how VAR should be used will leave many baffled as to why the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), who are responsible for the application of VAR in the Premier League, are not using the review system correctly, given the numerous replays that are being viewed for the tightest of decisions.
Former England striker Gary Lineker has voiced his frustration with the use of VAR, writing on Twitter in the wake of the weekend’s farce: “Once again, the technology can’t prove tight decisions. Two replays is the maximum you need to see if the referee’s assistants have badly erred. Get rid of the silly lines and dots. If it’s that tight go with on-field decision.”
Wolves captain Conor Coady spoke out after his side were denied an equaliser just before half-time at runaway leaders Liverpool on Sunday. Neto’s goal was ruled out because Spanish wing-back Jonny was ruled to be offside in the build-up.
“It’s horrible for me, it’s tough to take,” Coady told the BBC.
“A lot of people are going to tell me that they have come to the right decision and they might have. But what is it, an armpit that’s offside, or a toe, or something like that?”
Sheffield United were denied a goal against Manchester City – the fifth time this season VAR has ruled out a goal they have scored.
Blades manager Chris Wilder said: “Yet again we had another goal disallowed by VAR. That’s about eight or nine over the weekend, this is not a situation helping the game.”
His opposite number Pep Guardiola said VAR was “a big mess” and added: “Hopefully next season it can do better.”