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Question Number: 34456

Mechanics 12/27/2021

Crebs Crem of Zagreb, Croatia asks...

Hello and merry Christmas,

I wish to ask about a possible scenario. Assume that VAR is in use. At some point of the game, a player of team A commits a foul against his/her opponent. Since the team B maintains possession and continues to progress towards opponent's penalty area, the referee plays the advantage. After a while, team B loses possession, team A starts a counter attack and scores a goal. Since this is the first stoppage after advantage has been played, the referee shows yellow card to player of team A who committed the misconduct. However, VAR suggests a review and tells the referee that the misconduct might possible deserve a red card. The referee starts a review and decides that the misconduct deserves a red card and therefore the referee sends the player of team A off. At this point, should the referee disallow the goal scored by team A? If he/she should, what should be the correct restart?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Crebs
VAR is a tool used at the highest level to assist a referee in officiating a game. The referee’s decision can only be changed if the video review shows a clear error i.e. not ‘was the decision correct?’ but ‘was the decision clearly wrong?’
IFAB has stated that on rare occasions, when it is unclear whether a penalised cautionable (YC) offence is a sending off (RC) the referee may consult VAR. It is assumed that the standard of the referee should be such that he is capable of seeing red card challenges in real time hence the rarity of it.
IFAB does not want to change the way the game is officiated and if a referee has seen an offence, plays advantage, opines that a challenge is a caution then it would have to be a very clear error to go back to original offence.

The advice is that the VAR as part of the silent review should be to immediately advise the referee of a possible red card offence and that requires the game to be stopped as soon as a team loses possession so as to prevent other significant events taking place and then being overturned. In this case a goal by Team A.
Referee Wright makes a good point in respect of the amended advantage law. It also highlights the fact that the law makers do not want advantage played on red card offences unless it is an immediate goal scoring opportunity

Now in reality is VAR going to intervene on a challenge clearly seen by the referee where advantage has been played and realised which the referee opined was a caution? I watched a number of challenges recently in PL games that I thought merited a red card yet VAR did not intervene to change the referees decision from a caution to a red card nor ask him to review it at the pitch side monitor. Advantage was not played in the two situations as none was available.

In the highly unlikely event that play was not stopped nor advantage played for a clear error by the referee then a goal scored by the offending team is disallowed, the player sanctioned according to the offence and play restarts with a direct free kick from the location of that offence.

In the situation of an unseen incident such as violent conduct VAR will intervene and should do so at the earliest opportunity which would be in a neutral zone or if there was no possibility of a clear attacking opportunity to the offended against team.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Crebs,

It's a good question - I actually think that the VAR isn't important here as the same situation can arise with an AR and a consultation with the referee - and the relevant passage lies in Law 12, not in the VAR protocol:

"Advantage should not be applied in situations involving serious foul play, violent conduct or a second cautionable offence unless there is a clear opportunity to score a goal. The referee must send off the player when the ball is next out of play, but if the player plays the ball or challenges/interferes with an opponent, the referee will stop play, send off the player and restart with an indirect free kick, unless the player committed a more serious offence."

So, it depends on whether the player who should have been sent off becomes involved with play again - and specifically by touching the ball or challenging/interfering with an opponent. If they don't, then the goal would stand. If they do, I believe the goal would be disallowed with an indirect free kick where the player became involved.

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