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Question Number: 34509

Mechanics 2/21/2022

RE: Adult

Ono of RG, ISR ISR asks...

This question is about VAR.

Say VAR checks for a penalty after the ref gives a corner.
The check shows a handball offense, BUT it came after a clear offside.

What's the right decision here - a corner or offside?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Ono
A deliberate handling by a defender is a deliberate act and is a DFK foul upgraded to PK status inside the defenders' own PA!
The fact there are offside opposing personnel in and around does not UNDO that fact, a ball was deliberately handled, because, for offside to BE called, there must also be involvement by that offside POSITIONED opponent AHEAD of the handling.

For that original corner to be awarded by the referee had to be thinking the ball was last touched by the defender/keeper before it exited the FOP over the goal line.

To undo that corner decision, if VAR noticed that the last touch was a deliberate handling missed by the referee or AR or if say an offside attacking player receiving the ball shot or redirected that the ball towards the defender who deliberately handled the ball which wound up over the goal line for a corner, the chain of events dictate the restart.

We could consider how much time has transpired from the events themselves?
That corner, did it occur 3o seconds later?
Did the ball change possession between teams?
We tend to ignore an offside if further playing events occur that render the free kick out as unimportant. Certain criteria are in play, possession, reverse play up the field, etc... That is different than if say the ball had actually gone into touch and then back onto the FOP THAT CAN NOT Be ignored!

Generally VAR ONLY intercedes if there is an obvious game changing error that was somehow missed.

If an offside player was actually involved and last touched/played the ball and then it was handled, then the corner restart resulted right after I say to go back and award offside INDFK out as correct! It is the right call, its fair and not too much time has elapsed!

HOWEVER, if there was an offside positioned player waiting to receive a pass and a defender brazenly reached up to stop the ball from getting there but the ball went there anyway such an action is NOT a deflection or rebound, it is a deliberate play of the ball by a defender and would RESET any restriction the offside players had, thus freeing them to be involved. In such a case the DFK PK foul could apply!

Remember while VAR can suggest the incident be reviewed, it is STILL the on-field referee that makes the final decision. The referee will of course have to explain his decision in the post-game to the satisfaction of those assessing them but that is something we are not privy to. If the referee STOPPED play for a restart and the VAR showed that the restart was erroneous because play has NOT yet restarted, the decision can be changed! If the corner had occurred and it was only later the VAR information was made known then its too late to change the decision .


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Timing is what is key here and the sequence of events.

VAR is a tool that is used to assist in match changing events and it is not used to officiate games.
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?’

In your example the match changing event is the handling so that is what is reviewed. It is assumed that play has been delayed at the corner kick by the referee to initiate a review on the handling offence. If it is shown that the offside was connected with and part of the handling then it makes sense to restart with the IDFK for offside. For that to happen the PIOP would have to be involved in the handling offence such as playing the ball or interfering with an opponent as part of the review. If it was no connected and it was not shown as part of the review then the restart is the corner kick.

One of the debates on VAR is how far should the review go back and it is now generally accepted that it is immediate lead up to the incident that gets reviewed. A missed offside where play has continued for a number of plays followed by the handling would not be reviewed. VAR is trying not to change the flow and dynamic of the game so if the officials have missed something and play has continued for a period then it makes sense not to go back a distance to that event. Now it is not cast in stone and a referee say on a serious incident such as missed violent conduct will and should take action as that is what the game expects. What it does not expect is that every incident such as a corner kick, throw in that is incorrect should be reviewed.

As to the regular grassroots and lower levels VAR does not concern 99.9+ % of the game and it is only the top level Pro games. Those games are controlled from a refereeing point of view by a professional body such PGMOL in the English Premier League. Referees and VAR officials receive extensive training on the VAR protocol. That VAR protocol is followed by the officials as best as they can. The attacking phase part is the difficult one as to when to start the review However there will always be outliers and it is up to the referee and the VAR officials on the game to make the best call based on what transpires.
The game could not have a policy where every restart decision has to be reviewed just in case a goal resulted from the next phase of play – this would result in far too many interruptions to the game.

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