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Question Number: 34522

Mechanics 3/6/2022

Crebs Crem of Zagreb, Croatia asks...

When VAR is in use, do you recommend the referees to delay the penalty call until the ball gets outside of the penalty area or the defending team takes control of the ball? I ask because I think such a scenario might happen:
Team A is attacking in opponent’s penalty area, player A is down because he/she loses his/her balance and the referee incorrectly awards a penalty to team A. At that moment, the attack was still going on and the ball was in team B’s penalty area. Then, VAR suggests a review and the referee decides to cancel the penalty and the referee restarts the play with a dropped ball to goalkeeper B. In such a case, wrong penalty call by the referee causes team A to lost the ball and also lost the chance of a promising attack.

So, do you also think referees need to delay the penalty until the attack inside the penalty area is over, at least when VAR is in use?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Crebs
One of the real risks with VAR is that referees might start to rely too much on VAR when it is in use.
In your example a referee if he is uncertain may decide to not make any call and wait for the silent review by VAR to deal with the scenario you mention.

In recent times I have seen referees not make calls that I think they might have made yet they hold off on a call until it has been reviewed. It is somewhat akin to the "no Flag" in a tight offside situation until the chance has been taken or the ball played away. If the offside is correct the restart is an IDFK and if it is not offside the chance has been allowed which could be a goal.

So the wait and see principle as used in offside VAR calls could be used in doubtful penalty claims.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Crebs,
it does seem more prudent to allow play to continue if uncertain then make a stoppage on a hunch! At the grass roots referees often work as a single official or with ARs not very often is there a 4th or video review. Usually at national tournaments or the pro leagues. Only a very few officials are subjected to VAR conditions and the review and correlation of how and when is likely to evolve over time!

The rational of getting the call right is not the worst thing to be concerned about yet as in most things it is difficult to cover every eventuality when relying on a single individual to see. analyse and discern the call in a heartbeat correctly.

The use of VAR oversight has likely CREATED some doubt and affected the mindsets of certain officials because when a crucial or critical decision is proven to be incorrect it could cause them to be reticent to make a call when they normally might or perhaps they are MORE certain to wait and see because additional information is forthcoming?

I used to get upset how a bad or incorrect offside call takes away good goals in the older world cups especially when it was so clear that it was so. Not withstanding my mentors Esse's 1998 World cup moments, I was always more forgiving if a foul was not awarded even if I disagreed & had a different opinion! Particularly handing calls where there was no real intent to handle, just circumstances.

I do believe they (those in charge of IFAB & FIFA referee development) ) are working on the mental aspect of VAR in behind the scenes but the LOTG changes for a DB inside the PA certainly seems a consideration given the defenders make out like gang busters on a decision where play is stopped and it turns out it was unnecessary.

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