Var 'not clear and obvious'

Left: England's James Tarkowski fouling Italy's Federico Chiesa at Wembley on Tuesday, resulting in a penalty following a (Video Assistant Referee) VAR review. Below: German referee Deniz Aytekin studying the VAR screen before reversing his decision
England's James Tarkowski fouling Italy's Federico Chiesa at Wembley on Tuesday, resulting in a penalty following a (Video Assistant Referee) VAR reviewPHOTO: REUTERS
Left: England's James Tarkowski fouling Italy's Federico Chiesa at Wembley on Tuesday, resulting in a penalty following a (Video Assistant Referee) VAR review. Below: German referee Deniz Aytekin studying the VAR screen before reversing his decision
German referee Deniz Aytekin studying the VAR screen before reversing his decision not to give a spot kick. Italy equalised from the penalty and the game finished 1-1.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Southgate warns system may cause a mess at World Cup after Italy penalty rescues a draw

LONDON • England manager Gareth Southgate believes a lack of clarity over the video assistant referee (VAR) system could blight the June 14-July 15 World Cup in Russia.

Southgate's side were denied another impressive World Cup warmup friendly result as Lorenzo Insigne's penalty, courtesy of VAR, three minutes from time salvaged a 1-1 draw for Italy at Wembley on Tuesday.

However, the visitors were awarded a spot kick much to England's frustration, after German referee Deniz Aytekin overturned his initial decision not to give a penalty when substitute Federico Chiesa tumbled under the challenge of debutant James Tarkowski .

The decision to use VAR at the World Cup has not been an entirely popular one due to mixed results from a series of trials across major European football leagues.

Replays proved Tarkowski had trod on Chiesa's foot, but Southgate insisted the incident was not cut and dried.

"I'm glad it's not the World Cup yet," said Southgate. "I think the ruling is 'clear and obvious' and it's not. It's one you can debate all day.

"I don't think with incidents like that VAR will clear things up... there must be a better way of communicating with the fans."

Southgate added that he was against the use of VAR in the English Premier League despite the huge financial considerations wrong decisions can effect.

"I prefer (that the) referee's decision is final. It's sport and we shouldn't be talking abut how much money it's cost or lost."

Former England captain Alan Shearer concurred with Southgate's assessment, saying VAR was becoming a farce.

"If you ignore the 'clear and obvious' guidance, then you potentially have to review every decision and the game will descend into chaos," he said on Twitter.

England were on course to back up their 1-0 win over the Netherlands on Friday thanks to Jamie Vardy's 26th-minute opener before the intervention of VAR, and Southgate declared himself proud of his side's preparations with only two more friendlies left against Nigeria and Costa Rica in June.

"Generally over the two games, I'm really pleased," added Southgate. "In the last four games (England drew with Brazil and world champions Germany in November), we've played four of the biggest countries in the world and been competitive in every one."

Insigne's equaliser was the first goal England have conceded in six games. However, the hosts could have been punished far earlier for a lackadaisical start but for some poor finishing from Ciro Immobile.

The Three Lions have had to cope without key striker Harry Kane, who has missed their last four friendlies through injury.

However, Vardy furthered his case that he is a more than capable stand-in after blasting ruthlessly into the roof of the net from Jesse Lingard's quickly taken free kick.

Italy will not join England in Russia, having failed to qualify for the Finals for the first time in 60 years.

But the difference in motivation for both sides was not palpable after a slew of second-half substitutions which disrupted the rhythm.

Southgate must name his provisional 23-man World Cup squad by May 14, with England opening their campaign against Tunisia on June 18 in Volgograd.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2018, with the headline 'Var 'not clear and obvious''. Print Edition | Subscribe