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Question Number: 32534

Law 6 - The Other Match Oficials 6/22/2018

RE: Rec Adult

russell of Sydney, Dae i say it – Australia ! asks...

This question is a follow up to question 32532

Nik of Moscow asks a good question of the Penalty for HB join the Denmark v Socceroo's match.

A lot of debate around the office water cooler the morning after on this one, and I was asked an opinion many times.

My response was, if there was no VAR*, and the ref of the day does not awards a penalty - fine. Play on.

However, as there is the opportunity to review, and the VAR team advise the CR to review it, then we have to expect a probable decision overturn (award a penalty) otherwise, why ask to look at it.

The panels replies here are all very valid assessments, however, I do feel one aspect was not fully covered.

Yes, the distance/time from the attackers touch to the defenders arm was very short. Yes, there may not have been 'hand to ball', however, this does not always take 'deliberate' out of the mix of consideration.

Many times the we have been advise that if the opportunity is there to take the arm away from being hit, and a player does not - then there is deliberate intention.

Yes, we say we cannot rule on what we think the player in intending, however, if we are prepared to say that making the body bigger can lead to an offence, then deliberately placing your arm in a position that could block the path of the ball to the goal must be considered deliberate handling if the ball does connect with the hand/arm.

In real time, I can live with the Ref not awarding a penalty on this incident, however, asked to review a replay, I agree with the penalty award as, it appears to me (and I totally accept others may think otherwise) that there was a deliberate action to place the arm in a position that could block the ball.

As stated, I am ok with anyone thinking otherwise.

What I think is a bigger picture question that all of these VAR rulings have indicated is - we need consistency.

Why was Harry Kane being rugby tacked to the ground not asked to be reviewed. Why not two other incidents in the Denmark v Australia match not reviewed that could have seen penalties awarded to Denmark. Most other matches have had similar incidents not reviewed.

That's what bewilders me.

As an Aussie, it is fortunate that the Soccceroo's benefited from VAR calls made and not made.
As a Referee, it is puzzling.

* one wisecrack said VAR stood for 'Very Average Refereeing'.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
There is so much going on behind the scenes in VAR that we are not a party to.
In this instance the referee is clearly seen to motion away the penalty call and then decides to review. What happened during the communication on the headsets is the important part and we are not a party to this. There is a real danger of VAR becoming refereeing by committee rather than a tool to assist the referee.
I think the referee should have stuck with his original call which was no penalty.
Having said all that the real issue here is deliberate handling. It is now the most difficult call that a referee has to make. In this instance it was not deliberate in the sense of the player intentionally handling the ball or even attempting to handle yet the ball hitting an arm in a challenge for the ball. We saw VAR in the English FACup final not award DHB against Ashley Young which could easily have been given.
I believe VAR is a good tool if used correctly and it should be used like it is in rugby with only the referee requesting assistance rather than the VAR informing the referee.
This handling situation is like the unwanted flag from an AR who has a different opinion of handling from the referee. The referee goes across to be told that the AR says handling whereas the referee thinks otherwise. If the VAR is a senior respected referee who think DHB is a referee going to *overrule* and perhaps pay the consequences.
On the Harry Kane incidents I believe VAR looked at them in a silent check and agreed with the on-field decision that there was nothing there. I have looked at those again a few times and on both I can see a reason not to give them in that on the first one Kane lifts his arm over the shoulder of the defender and on the second one Kane actually holds the defenders arm. Is he using VAR particularly when a soft penalty was already given. That may have been the thinking which is unhelpful. The first one could certainly have been given.
I am just watching the Brazil v Costa Rica game and Brazil is complaining about a non call on a *hold* from a corner kick late in the first half. I suspect that referees and VAR have been told not to *buy* these holding type fouls where there is any possibility of *engineering* a foul. In the Brazil one the ball is miles away and the attacker goes down making an appeal which is waved away. Was it a foul? Possibly. Did it deserve a penalty kick? No
I think one of the unintended consequences of VAR is pressure from players to award at set plays on *holding*. For the past 10 years holding at set plays has been an epidemic in the game and we still have it with players reaching around players, raising arms etc.
In the Brazil example a penalty is such a big decision as it opens the game up rather than having the bus parked as it is by Costa Rica. Brazil players continued to complain at half time in the hope that pressure would result in a call in the second half.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Russel,

I hold similar view that VAR creates issues due to the perception of change when looking at things in slow motion rather than playing speed. The VAR are NOT the same people all at the same time, they are different people using the same technology and as such THEIR opinions will play a part.

As I have tried to accept the uniformity of a world wide direction at what is or is not a deliberate action for a handling foul I have accepted the SLIDE Tackle challenge in going to ground to block as continued deliberate act and that RISK of arm/ball contact will be a likely foul even if accidental. I accept the ambivalence because it makes it EASIER to accept or explain the calls.

The variance at what is considered as acceptable or normal arm movements is at times difficult given another player could be moving that limb for you to CREATE the contact . The engineering of fouls is certainly a result of the coaches & players understanding that VAR IS watching and they will use the technology to assist or achieve a result in their favour IF they can.

I see them requesting the window now as much as I see referee lol

I HAVE to think the reason the reviews for certain things is the referee had a clear shot and chose not to as opposed to he did not see it clearly? He MIGHT be told hey you should look at this but be adamant and say No I am ok with it. Think on ESSE at the WC cup in 1998 no camera had the right angle only he did and ANY camera angle showed nothing like a PK>

I guess we have to accept that as with any new things there will be pros and cons as to its use and effect. The fact that BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING will take hold and it WILL CHANGE how players interact on the big stage!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Nik,
I would agree with you that if the referee judges that the player has intentionally placed his hand or arm in a particular position as part of a deliberate act so as to make contact with the ball, that is an offence.

However in the specific instance here, I did not see any indication that this was the case. The player has jumped for the ball with his arms in what I would consider a natural position. He has not moved his hand towards the ball (in fact he was moving his arm away from the ball) and for me, the ball was deflected from too close to him for him to have had any chance to avoid the contact. I can understand others points of view but for me this was not a handling offence.

I would also agree with you that the VAR system has been a little 'spotty' in its implementation and that they seem to have been particularly lenient on holding offences in the penalty area.

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