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Question Number: 32263

Law 5 - The Referee 2/28/2018

RE: Competitive Under 19

Dave Bermingham of Herndon, Virginia United States asks...

Lots of VAR controversy in the FA Cup Tottenham v Rochedale match.
Two questions: I'm having a problem seeing that the Referee and VAR Ref are being consistent in two of the early decisions. At 0:22 TOT has a goal disallowed by VAR for a Llorente foul during the build up. At 1:20 Lucas is blocked off the ball in the penalty area with no penalty given. In my view either both situations were foul contact or neither was. At the EPL level I would expect neither to be considered fouls from what I saw. As a matter of foul recognition, is there a distinction that I'm missing?
At 2:30 Rochdale commits a foul that continues into the penalty area. TOT 7 Son Heung-min was shown a yellow card for 'feinting' during his spot-kick (2:57). Law 14 list as an offense 'feinting to kick the ball once the kicker has completed the run-up (feinting
in the run-up is permitted); the referee cautions the kicker.' At the point he feinted, Son was not within kicking distance of the ball, so how could this be considered an offense? Based on the video, I would have said the proper portion of law to apply was if 'a player of both teams offends the Laws of the Game [encroachment], the kick is retaken
unless a player commits a more serious offence (e.g. illegal feinting)'.
As always, I appreciate the panel's assistance and wisdom.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Dave
Thanks for the questions. We had to change the video due to the removal of the original one. Unfortunately the Lucas foul is not included
I am of the view that VAR was never intended to be used in the manner in which it was used in this game. I believe some uses may have been contrary to the protocols and that may be due to the newness of this to many referees. Nearly every single decision the referee seemed to use VAR even in the goals that had no issues? That is not good for the game.
Anyway on the Llorente incident I would suspect that the VAR viewed Llorentes action as a push on the Rochdale defender. In real time I could not see a foul and probably the referee was unsure as to why the defender went to ground. It was a soft foul in my opinion and the defender seemed to pull the Spurs player first which put him off balance.
On the Lucas one this is a typical trying to buy a penalty kick action. The player moves towards the defender and exaggerates his fall. Under review I would have suggested a caution for simulation and an IDFK.
On the Son penalty kick the actual Laws states what constitutes illegal feinting. Feinting to kick the ball once the kicker has completed the run-up is illegal whereas feinting in the run-up is permitted. I was always of the opinion picked up from the game that coming to a stop on the run up was seen as unsporting and that may still be in some referees thinking. For that reason one never saw a full stop on a run up yet stuttering, continuing to move was acceptable. The Law historically said that if in the opinion of the referee the feinting is considered an act of unsporting behaviour, the player shall becautioned and a retake if the goal was scored. IFAB sees it now as stopping at the ball and it is no longer a retake yet an IDFK at the penalty mark. This is IFABs view
**Why is illegal feinting by the penalty kicker an IDFK even when the player scores?
A player who deliberately stops at the end of their run and then feints to gain an advantage is deliberately breaking the Law. This is an act of deliberate unsporting behaviour so, as well as the caution (YC), the player does not deserve to have a second chance to score. This stronger punishment should deter an offence which is sometimes difficult to detect**

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Dave,
once they began the process of introducing video review there will be a period of time where the arm of justice will be swinging like Edgar Allan Poe the Pit and the Pendulum rather than a steady beat of a clock. Off with their heads and an ugly mess will ensue until they refine the process. Right now it appears a lot of headless chickens are running amuck
The question is Why?
Soccer is a game played with a great deal of emotion and passion. These needs are simply not the same for the participates, the watchers, the coaches or the officials all who view the match from a different perspective. In our desire to get a decision right we kill the intensity of a match when we have to analyze a referee decision in real time with arbitrary camera angles. . We suck out the oxygen with long delays of debateable actions. Look at the ESSE decision to award a PK in the 1998 world cup that ALL The cameras missed! If VAR WAS in use back then it could have likely altered the final 16 participants only to find out 2 days later thanks to an independent TV camera operator we see the 100% true foul and that he WAS 100% correct even though it looked dubious at best?

Goal line technology for a ball in or out and after the match discipline for a missed incident, possibly good or bad offside goals reviewed . One can critically assess the referees' performances but allow the CRs to referee the rest of the match without hindrance or 2nd guessing every critical decision. I felt the PK was a soft one in as much both players had a degree of fault but to have so much confusion as what a feint is or is not does the game itself an injustice.

When can a ref use VAR?
The guidelines officials are given

THESE are the guidelines referees have been given as to when they can use VAR and how they should use the man in the earpiece.
The VAR will automatically 'check' all incidents using the broadcaster's footage (there is thus no need for coaches or players to request a review)
The referee can stop play for a review if no team has a good attacking possibility
The referee will indicate a review by showing the outline of a TV screen; a decision cannot be changed unless the review signal has been shown
For goals, penalty incidents and some red cards (e.g. denial of obvious goal-scoring opportunity), the review may include the attacking move that led to the incident, (including gaining possession of the ball) but not a restart which began the attack
The referee can make a decision based only on the information from the VAR or after reviewing the footage directly (on-field review OFR)
OFRs will usually be for 'subjective' decisions and not for factual decisions e.g. position of an offence or player (offside), point of contact (handball/foul)
'Real time' speed should be used for 'intensity' (foul) or 'intent' (handball) and slow motion replays only for 'point of contact' (physical offences and handball)
The referee will clearly indicate the outcome of a review; take/change/rescind any disciplinary action (where appropriate); and ensure the correct restart of play


In feints from the PK mark consider the FACT a keeper is held accountable for coming off the GL early and is subject to being cautioned if he does so, to trick him into moving early, causing him to be cautioned is looked upon as a cheap trick. If you have all the outside players already inside the PA by the time the kick occurs again the stop start feinting causes this early illegal movement.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Dave,
You are right - lots of contentious VAR incidents in this game. I agree with my colleague ref McHugh that some seem to show problems with the VAR protocol not being followed.

One of the most important parts of the VAR guidelines is that it should only be used to overturn a decision if there is a clear error. As the language of the protocol itself puts it,

''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 terms of the Llorente incident, I'm with ref McHugh again - I'm not sure there really is a foul by the forward - both players seem to hold each other and for me, it's almost impossible to say which one (if either) has really committed a foul worthy of calling. Based on everything I have seen, even if there might be a foul by Llorente it's far from being the case that the referee's decision not to award the foul was 'clearly wrong.'

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