VAR only for 'clear and obvious' mistakes, says rules official

A VAR review message is seen during a match between Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur.
A VAR review message is seen during a match between Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • The video assistant referee (VAR) should overturn on-field decisions only when there has been a "clear and obvious" error, according to one of football's leading international rules officials.

VAR has proven highly controversial since it was introduced in the Premier League this season.

A particular source of concern has revolved around offside calls.

Last weekend saw Norwich, Brighton, Sheffield United, Wolves, Brighton and Crystal Palace all have goals disallowed by marginal VAR rulings amid doubts over whether the available technology is accurate enough to make such fractional calls.

Players and managers have also questioned whether the system should be used to reverse an on-field decision that appears correct to the naked eye, a view that received support on Monday from the general secretary of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) - the sport's ultimate rule-making body.

Lukas Brud, while not addressing specific incidents in English football, said IFAB guidance advising that VAR should be used only to correct clear errors also applied to offside.He said in comments reported by the British media: "There should not be a lot of time spent to find something marginal."

Wolves captain Conor Coady was frustrated when his side were denied what seemed a legitimate equaliser just before half-time against league leaders Liverpool on Sunday, when Pedro Neto's effort was chalked off because wing-back Jonny was deemed to be offside in the build-up.

Wolves lost 1-0 at Anfield and 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 manager Chris Wilder was annoyed after VAR denied his side a goal against champions Manchester City - the fifth time it has happened to the Blades this season.

"Yet again we had another goal disallowed by VAR," he said. "That's about eight or nine over the weekend, this is not a situation helping the game."

But the introduction of VAR into Scottish football cannot come quickly enough for Glasgow giants Rangers. Sunday saw Steven Gerrard's side win 2-1 away to arch-rivals and champions Celtic.

His lone criticism of referee Kevin Clancy centred on the official not sending off Celtic defender Christopher Jullien in added time in an incident that saw Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos see red for a second yellow card.

Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson, while insisting he was not criticising referees, said on Monday: "We believe the introduction of VAR would help referees enormously and reduce the number of wrong decisions which sometimes have a dramatic effect on the outcome of matches."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2020, with the headline 'VAR only for 'clear and obvious' mistakes, says rules official'. Print Edition | Subscribe