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Question Number: 34557

Mechanics 4/14/2022

RE: Adult

Bob of HARROGATE, North Yorkshire England asks...

Another question on VAR
As a football fan aged 66 I am still unsure about VAR and if it really is 'helping'. I am a Liverpool fan and saw Manchester City v Liverpool last weekend, where VAR assisted Liverpool by ruling out City's 3rd goal, then last night at Anfield I watched VAR give 2 goals to Benfica both of which, to the naked eye where offside.

But, back to Manchester City v Liverpool , and the question, Late on in the match Salah hit a shot which went wide to Liverpools left of the post. Salah claimed the shot had hit LaPorte on the way out ,so Liverpool corner. Anthony Taylor denied him the corner but waited for VAR to check if the ball had hit the defenders hand...Penalty... No there was no hand ball, but shouldn't VAR have told the ref to give the corner?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Bob
VAR is managed by a strict protocol and it is not refereeing by video. IFAB the law making body does not fundamentally want to change how games are officiated so for certain situations such as an incorrect goal kick award that is still just part of the game like it always has been.

On the first Benfica goal it simply could not be offside as the ball was played by Milner to the Benfica player. VAR also showed that the Benfica scorer was in an onside position anyway.
On the second goal VAR clearly showed that the scorer was also in an onside position as per Law 11. Imagine if both were disallowed?
The Benfica goal that was disallowed also showed that the player was in an offside position yet the AR kept the flag down until after the goal was scored. If he was onside the goal would have counted.

As to the merits of VAR whether we like it or not match officials were competing with media technology, In many situations TV was showing match officials to be wrong in decisions particularly match changing ones such as offside, missed penalties, simulation so it was only a matter of time before technology was introduced. The Lampard no goal v Germany in the WC springs to mind when if technology was available the goal would have counted. Similarly the Thierry Henry handball in the WC playoff game when the officials did not see the handling yet every single TV viewer saw it. Those types of situations was raising all sorts of problems for the game.

On the Salah incident the only incident that could be checked was whether there was a possible penalty or not for handling. One can assume that the VAR check was for a possible handling consideration only and the VAR official needed time to check that. As a check has to be completed before a restart play can be held up which the game is anxious to avoid.. Once it was deemed that there was no handling then that was the end of the matter.

I think that the VAR protocol could be amended here in that if as in this case handling was checked with play halted and found not to be the case then it makes sense for the correct restart decision to be given to the referee which was a corner and for that to be allowed for in the protocol. I see the point in not reviewing every touch of the ball as then that would lead to a debacle of multiple reviews rather than for match changing situations. Imagine if every last touch was subject to a VAR review. Not possible and totally undesirable.

As to whether it is helping or not we can imagine if the two Benfica goals were ruled out for offside and the scored one was allowed. The post match would be dominated by unhappy players, team officials, supporters etc who would feel they were *robbed* . As it turned out Benfica had zero complaint as neither did Liverpool as it was shown that all the decision were 100% correct in the game.

The naked eye just cannot compete with technology. On balance VAR has been good in my opinion. I think one of the difficulties has been on the subjective decisions where VAR does not want to ask the referee for an on-field review where there can be doubt such as in some handling cases. Much is made of those situations in the media with VAR being questioned yet for those few situations there are many more good decisions. If a referee misses a corner that can happen anyway without VAR yet if he misses a penalty or an AR misses a clear offside those can be reviewed and corrected as required which is good for the game. Finally it will improve as the technology and its use improves. It is still early days in VAR and it is evolving all the time.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Bob,
well VAR is great with the YES or NO issues & as to being in or out, off or on goal/no goal, but it was not supposed to replace the on field official, simply offer evidence of any CRITICAL wrong decisions. In as much as offside is a matter of millimetres a human eye can not discern where a freeze frame camera can. Given play WAS stopped and there WAS a handling review if it was clear it was a corner while VAR is not designed to correct those doubtful calls see no practical reason to not do so except perhaps it could create issues by setting the bar too low for intervention later?

When there is no issue with a controversial decision there is usually no need for the VAR to communicate with the referee but a ‘silent check’ sometimes helps the referee/
assistant referee to manage the players/match if the VAR confirms that no ‘clear and obvious error’ or ‘serious missed incident’ occurred.
However if instead the ‘check’ indicates a probable ‘clear and obvious error’ or ‘serious missed incident’, the VAR will communicate this information to the referee, who will then decide whether or not to initiate a ‘review’

Match validity
In principle, a match is not invalidated because of:
# malfunction(s) of the VAR technology (as for goal line technology (GLT))
# wrong decision(s) involving the VAR (as the VAR is a match official)
# decision(s) not to review an incident
# review(s) of a non-reviewable situation/decision

I know we can easily point out missed calls but keep in mind the ESSE 1998 WC 101% correct call that HAD no TV support lol I doubt anything VAR had to say if it was in use would have convinced ESSE to not award the pk. lol One thing I THINK many people are not aware of is the CR (the center referee) on the pitch STILL has the final say not VAR.


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Bob,
The short answer to your question is that no, the VAR should not have told the referee to give a corner.

This may seem slightly counter-intuitive, but in fact, the VAR protocol is clear that only four types of "match-changing" decisions/incidents can be reviewed. These are for incidents involving goals, penalties, direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity.

Incorrectly-given corners cannot be overturned by VAR review - it simply isn't permissible under the VAR protocol.

The reason for not reviewing restarts, as given by the IFAB, is that the object of the VAR system:

"is NOT to achieve 100% accuracy for all decisions as there is no desire to destroy the essential flow and emotions of football which result from the game’s almost non-stop action and the general absence of lengthy stoppages."

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