Video ref delay irks managers

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system pitchside ahead of the Carabao Cup semi final first leg match between Chelsea and Arsenal, on Jan 10, 2018.
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system pitchside ahead of the Carabao Cup semi final first leg match between Chelsea and Arsenal, on Jan 10, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Wenger cites second penalty review, Conte disappointed over insufficient stoppage time

LONDON • Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and his Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger have questioned aspects of the VAR system after the video assistant referee was used during their 0-0 draw in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

The system reviewed two penalty decisions, one for each side, with match referee Martin Atkinson and VAR assistant Neil Swarbrick agreeing that neither incident warranted a spot kick.

Conte described the new technology as a "good solution", but was frustrated with there being insufficient stoppage time after multiple delays caused by VAR and injuries.

"For me, there's disappointment about (not enough) extra time," he told Sky Sports.

"In the second half, the doctor went onto the pitch twice and the referee stopped for VAR, so you have to give more minutes of extra time. In Italy, sometimes it can be seven, eight or nine minutes."

In total, two minuted were added in first-half stoppage time and five at the end of the game.

But he added: "When there is a doubt, the referee can check and see the situation again and make the best decision. It is right, in this way for sure the mistakes are less."

Wenger questioned in particular the delay between the incident and the review after the second penalty appeal, following Danny Welbeck's tackle on Cesc Fabregas in the box, which Atkinson turned down.

"There were only two opportunities for them to intervene, the first one was straight away because the ball went out," he said.

"But the second one, for me, it would look a bit strange... If the referee is uncertain, maybe he should stop the game straight away.

"If there is no penalty, you give it to the defending team, because it looks a bit strange to go on for two minutes and then to come back... When you cannot intervene straight away, it's frustrating."

The VAR system was successfully tested in Monday's FA Cup third-round match between Crystal Palace and Brighton. It was not used in Tuesday's first League Cup semi-final at Manchester City for consistency, because second-tier Bristol City do not have the necessary set-up to install the VAR for the second leg.

English football's referees chief Mike Riley was satisfied with the way the technology has performed in the two games.

"The whole idea is to have minimum interference on the game but get the right decisions to have the maximum impact," he said, while conceding that one of the decision taken in Wednesday's game took far longer than expected.

"That (1min 25sec) is a little bit longer than we have done in training," he added.

"It typically takes around 30 to 40 seconds to look at something. But we are at the start of the process and it will take time for the VARs to become accustomed to this."

Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn has previously backed the technology to become a permanent fixture in English football, with a concrete decision yet to be reached.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2018, with the headline 'Video ref delay irks managers'. Print Edition | Subscribe