Everybody seems to be attacking VAR these days, especially managers of teams that have lost their games. However, I wonder if the Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, had the wrong views of the technology after their game with Newcastle.
He believed that VAR had let his team down, when Newcastle scored the only goal of the match. His contention was that the ball had gone out of play over the Arsenal goal line prior to it being passed to Anthony Gordon who scored at close range.
The goal was also checked for offside and for a possible foul on Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes. It was said that checks were made with three of the VAR videos, but none were conclusive.
I didn’t expect them to be. As I’ve said before, the VAR cameras are stationary and as at offside, they should be looking in a straight line across the action. The ball in or out cannot be judged from a camera that does not look along the goal line and I doubt if there is a VAR camera there.
There is one however that does just that, the GLT (goal line technology). It judges whether the ball has gone over the goal line in between the goal posts and if so, it must send a message to the referee’s watch within one second that a goal has been scored. But it says in the Laws that GLT is only used to confirm a goal has been scored.
So why is it so difficult sometimes to know if the ball crossed the lines, goal or touch? The reason again is in the Laws of the Game which says, ‘the ball is out of play when it has wholly passed over the goal line or touch line on the ground or in the air’.
When training prospective referees, I placed a ball the other side of an improvised line and ask them if it was in or out of play. Even those within a yard or so. said ’out of play’.
But when they viewed it from the side, they saw it was in play. Although the base of the ball was behind the line, part was over hanging it. The ball had not wholly passed over the line.
In local football, the assistant referees are of course, members of each club, unlikely have received any training.
So, I take a ball out to the middle and using the halfway line, show them what is meant by the whole of the ball as they would have to flag when the ball went out of play.
Of course, it is usually obvious, but when it is not, it can have a great effect on the game as the Newcastle/Arsenal match showed.
By Dick Sawdon Smith