The system used by PL officials will differ greatly from the VAR approach taken by UEFA in the Champions League or FIFA during the 2018 World Cup.
We will clearly go through the differences in this article.
Premier League Clubs voted unanimously to introduce VAR from 2019/20.
The PL is committed to the consistent use of VAR as set out in International Football Association Board protocol. The IFAB VAR philosophy is “minimum interference – maximum benefit”.
As it currently stands, VAR will be introduced for good although this can be overturned at annual PL meetings. The PL believes VAR will positively influence decision-making and lead to more correct and fairer judgements.
From August 9th VAR will be used in the PL for “clear and obvious errors” or “serious missed incidents”.
This will be applied in four match-changing situations:
- Direct red cards
- Mistaken identity
VAR will automatically check these situations as a matter of course – no signal is needed by the referee. However, the final decision will always be taken by the referee who has been told to maintain the pace and tempo of Premier League matches.
The PL accepts it will not achieve 100 per cent accuracy but believes it will increase Key Match Incident accuracy which is currently at 82 per cent.
One of the biggest changes to what has previously been seen with VAR will be offsides. For example, with some offside decisions you will see the flag raised but play allowed to continue. This will be an obvious change from UEFA/Fifa where officials were advised to keep their flags down until a decision had been made. (See Video 1 below showing Harry Kane versus Chelsea and the discussions between the officials).
For clear immediate goalscoring chances an assistant referee will raise the flag as normal, the referee will delay the whistle until the match outcome and VAR will then check.
VAR will use 3D lines to determine offside positions. We were given a demonstration of this and it is accurate to the point that it would be hard to argue against. Players have been told they must play to the whistle.
With regards to how far back VAR will go - there is no time limit. However, the PL wants to minimise the amount of time used on VAR so the term ‘attacking phase of play’ is important here.
There are a number of factors to consider:
- The attacking phase of play is a move that leads directly to a goal
- The defending team gaining possession is important in these terms
- The ability of the defence to ‘re-set’ is taken into consideration
- Immediate, not multiple phases, are checked
So for example, Naby Keita’s goal away against Southampton would not be overturned by VAR. In the build-up to that goal Mo Salah is clearly offside and this is missed by the assistant referee. The game continues and a cross is cleared by the home side. Liverpool regain possession and it is at this point it is believed Southampton’s defence has re-set. Liverpool score from the next cross. Therefore, when the ball eventually hits the back of the net, it is agreed the Mo Salah offside did not directly lead to the goal, the defending team had cleared the ball and re-set and Liverpool had then scored.
With penalties, VAR intervention will be used for:
- Clear errors on goalkeeper movement by on-field officials – by clear they mean excessive early movement before the kick has been taken
- Double touch by players taking the kick
- Feigning at the point of the kick
- Encroachment that has a direct impact on the outcome of the kick – the example given here was Jan Vertonghen’s goal-line clearance versus Arsenal after Aubameyang had missed the penalty. After further questioning by the THST rep, it was agreed that the penalty would have been overturned anyway with the player booked for diving and a freekick given to Spurs.
The handballs seen in the Champions League, particularly the Tottenham – Manchester City game (Danny Rose), the PSG – Manchester United game (Presnel Kimpembe), and Tottenham – Liverpool game (Moussa Sissoko) would not be deemed by the PL VAR as handball. The PL uses a different interpretation of the handball rule to UEFA.
The rule to be introduced in the Premier League states that a player should not be penalised if they are believed to be using their arms for balance or in this case, where the player is gesticulating to team-mates to cover a rival player.
As Mike Riley, General Manager of PGMOL, said at the time of the Sissoko handball: "That’s not a deliberate act of extending the arm away from the body. You also see the ball deflects off the chest on to the arm, and if you put everything together and apply the philosophy we do here, we wouldn’t say that was handball."
For ‘not seen’ incidents (off the ball elbows, punches etc) there will be a VAR window to intervene. When the ball is in play, this will be at the next re-start and when the ball is out of play, this will be the second re-start. (See video 2 below for an example of how the game will continue as officials discuss the best course of action).
Referees will also be less likely to view the pitch-side monitor to make a decision as their Video Assistant Referee will also be a Premier League official who will advise on what they have seen via the slow motion and many angled replays.
For match-attending fans, overturned VAR decisions will be shown on in-stadium screens with the exception of Old Trafford (Manchester United) and Anfield (Liverpool) where there are no screens. At these stadiums the scoreboards and electronic advertising boards can be used to advise fans that a VAR check is underway, when a conclusion has been reached and what that decision is.(See video 3 below for an example of how match-attending fans will be informed of a decision via VAR).
Every goal scored in the Premier League will be automatically checked as a matter of course with a view that the process will be completed before the celebrations have been concluded.
Players will not be booked for simply requesting that VAR checks an incident, but unique incidents may see players cautioned. For example, if a player politely requests that an incident is viewed a referee can explain the situation to him. However, if a player runs half the length of the pitch gesticulating that VAR should investigate, this will likely lead to a yellow card. Clubs have been told.
Players will be booked if they attempt to enter a Referee Review Area on their own or for interfering with referee communication.
The PL has set a high bar for clear and obvious error before a change has been made to the original decision. It says VAR will not completely remove controversy over subjective decisions. The tackle by Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany on Liverpool’s Mo Salah at the Eithad Stadium was given as an example of this. Many felt Kompany should have been sent off but VAR would have allowed the yellow card to stand.
Video 1: Harry Kane versus Chelsea:
Video 2: Dangerous challenge on Andros Townsend but play continues:
Video 3: How fans will be informed of a VAR decision:
26 July 2019
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