PREMIER LEAGUE

Former players call for change after calamitous VAR decisions

A Premier League official has admitted that the video assistant referees got a number of vital decisions wrong in the most recent round of fixtures.

Former players call for change after calamitous VAR decisions
SHAUN BOTTERILL AFP

A former referee and member of the Premier League’s match centre, Dermot Gallagher, has confirmed that he believes the video assistant referee (VAR) was responsible for three incorrect decisions in Thursday’s matches.

The incidents all related to important penalty decisions with Manchester United and Southampton benefiting from disputed spot-kicks, while Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane was wrongly denied one after being shoved in the box. Each incident happened with the game at 0-0 and could have proved crucial to the outcome.

Match of the Day presenter Dan Walker revealed on Twitter last night that they had spoken to Premier League officials who had admitted that all three decisions were incorrect.

Players trying to trick referees

Ex-Everton midfielder Tim Cahill was a guest on the show and said that he believes that officials are getting decisions wrong because they do not have the understanding that a former player would have. When asked about the possibility of including ex-professionals on the VAR team, the Australia international said: "I think that would really help [the officials] to understand the movements. When a player falls to buy a penalty you can feel it and straight away we said no penalty, it looks so visible. It must need a player there to give advice on what the player is doing.”

Former Aston Villa forward Dion Dublin agreed that ex-players were less likely to be fooled by players trying to deceive the referee: “We know how the body moves and how it falls when you’re looking for something or if something’s happened to you. You fall in a certain way.”

Currently the VAR team at Stockley Park is comprised of a video assistant referee (VAR), an assistant VAR and a replay operator.

What next for video assistance in football?

VAR has got off to a shaky start in the Premier League since its introduction at the start of the 2019/20 season and has been employed in different way in different competitions. In the Champions League and the Europa League referees are encouraged to view contentious decisions on a pitch-side monitor rather than rely on the VAR team, whereas in England that is rarely the case.

However we may see a more universal approach from next season with FIFA set to take charge of the implementation of the technology across all affiliated competitions. Member associations were sent a letter on 29 June informing them of the decision and praising the “universal success” of VAR. It continued: “Following the successful launch period where FIFA worked in conjunction with The IFAB (International Football Association Board), we would like to inform you that all VAR-related activities will now transfer to FIFA.”

This should at least ensure that the rules are applied consistently across competitions but it is clear that there is still a lot of work to be done before VAR is can be considered a success.