FROM THE MIDDLE: What happens next for VAR?

VAR Picture: Wikimedia Commons

Although it was probably an England non given goal that led to its existence, we seem to create the most problems with the use of VAR.

Frank Lampard’s obvious goal against Germany in the 2010 World Cup, which was not given by the match officials, seemed to change the mind of FIFA President Sepp Blatter about the use of technology in football, so trials in six countries began.

Almost as if upset by being left out, when VAR was introduced worldwide, Premier League referees decided to do things their own way.

Firstly, they agreed amongst themselves not to view the monitors but allow the Video Assistant referees to make the decision for any contentious happenings.

This was not only against the VAR protocol but also the Laws of the Game. They also drew a line across the field at any possible offside, using the player’s feet as their guideline.

When I questioned one PGMO referee on this, he replied ‘It’s the Law’. Well of course it isn’t. The law says, ‘an offside position is any part of the head, body or feet’. At the end of the season, the PGMO admitted that 20 goals that should have counted had been disallowed using this system.

Following the Liverpool/Spurs VAR error, many views as to the future use of VARs have been expressed.

Gareth Southgate, Manager of the England team, feels the game would be better without it. Ange Postecoglou, Spurs head coach, seems to agree, saying ‘it’s trying to sanitise the game, when I’ve loved its imperfect nature’.

Ex-player Graeme Souness believes that VARs should be ex-players as they would see who has the intent to commit a foul, ignoring that intent was taken out of the game years ago.

With a review due, Howard Webb, chief refereeing officer, is reported to request a change to say that even if the game had restarted, it could be recalled if the decision is shown to be wrong.

Personally, I would be opposed to that as it also covers many other instances in the game.

I would leave offside to the on-field assistant referees as the cameras used by VAR are stationary and therefore not always in line with the action.

Having run probably a thousand lines, I know that to make that judgement, the assistant referee needs to be in line with the last but one defender.

I would prefer instead to go back to the original idea that the VAR assists only in the event of a clear and obvious error or a serious missed incident, such as Frank Lampard’s goal.

By Dick Sawdon Smith

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