Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 34299

Mechanics 8/13/2021

RE: Pro Professional

Steve D of Crofton , MD USA asks...

In today’s Brentford-Arsenal match it appeared to me that on Brentford’s second goal the attacker was “playing the keeper” and not the ball and even had locked his arms behind him to “pin” the keeper in the announcer’s language. Why was this not a foul disallowing the goal? If it was a foul and missed, can VAR be used to correct?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Steve
Well good for Brentford they must be over the moon beating Arsenal. Top of the table lol . No one but the on-field officials can truly say why any decision is awarded or not awarded. We of the armchair core will speculate but seeing an incident in the video in slow motion or freeze-frame tends to cloud our judgments as to what we might think in real-time! VAR will point out a situation if they believe the referee crew is unaware but they do not overrule an opinion on a fact of play. VAR deals principally in absolutes YES or NO. Was there a review Did the referee make the imaginary TV? I did not see the match and what few videos out do not show in my area of the world. The on-field referee would review a request by VAR but they are not obligated to change a decision just use the additional information to perhaps make a better one! Based on my colleagues' comments it seems you have a case for a holding foul that went unheeded!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Steve,
I watched this game and after seeing the replays, I have to say I was fully expecting this goal to be ruled out for a holding foul on the Arsenal keeper by the Brentford player.

I know VAR is only supposed to be used for clear and obvious errors and had this been a less egregious offence with only a minor amount of contact - or a case of "six of one and half a dozen of the other" I could have understand it not reaching the level of a clear and obvious error not to give the foul but for me this was a blatant example of holding that (in my opinion) should have been penalised.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Like Referee Grove I expected this to be disallowed for holding on first viewing. Obviously VAR decided to go with the on-field referee decision.

PGMOL the PL refereeing body has introduced changes to VAR this season which it hopes will allow referees to let the game flow more and to have a higher tolerance for giving fouls on the pitch particularly for lower body contact and particularly in the penalty area. Tight offsides are going to be given in favour of the attacking team with much wider lines used in deciding positions.

So in this instance I suspect VAR probably saw the Arsenal goalkeeper squeeze into the back of the Brentford player and put his arm under his opponents armpit which allowed the Brentford player the opportunity to hold the arm. The video angle from the rear made it look like obvious holding by the Brentford player only yet the side on view showed the Arsenal goalkeeper’s arm around the chest side of the opponent and making little effort to remove it which allowed it to be held. When the ball goes past the GK he is not held back and as he is well out of position and unable to do anything.

I guess this is an example of what many called heavy handed VAR use in the past if it was called and which the authorities now seem, based on the no call, to want to ignore.
I think the incident was as much the Arsenal goalkeeper own making rather than a blatant arm grab by the Brentford player only hence the VARs decision to go with Referee Oliver’s on-field call.
Based on this I expect to see less VAR interventions in the EPL this season.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34299
Read other Q & A regarding Mechanics

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.