Date: 5th March 2018 at 1:48pm
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It’s been reported that even if the Video Assistant Referee receives approval for introduction from the authorities next season, Premier League clubs themselves could block its introduction due to ongoing concerns about the application of the system.

The BBC reported ahead of the weekend that although the International Football Association Board (IFAB) have now passed the introduction of VAR into the rulebooks at their meeting in Zurich in time for it to appear at the World Cup in Russia, top flight clubs in England remain more reticient about bringing it until the Premier League rulebooks.

With the most recent responses to VAR being ‘comical’ and ’embarrasing’ following Tottenham Hotspur’s FA Cup replay victory over Rochdale in midweek, every plausible positive thought for bringing it into the game is countered naturally by a negative based on how it currently works, and the confusion it causes for fans.

The BBC report that some Premier League clubs back VAR for only matters of fact incidents, such as incidents inside the penalty box and issues of mistaken identity, whilst others question the quality of trained officials available for a full weekend programme given the delays and confusion seen in the small trials so far.

The Premier League standpoint remains that they are ‘open to considering new techology that assists match officials without disrupting the flow of the game’ but VAR by its very design so far distrupts the flow of matches.

A statement released to the BBC read.

‘We are monitoring closely the video assistant referee trials being conducted in other competitions. The evidence and learning provided by those trials will inform further discussions with our clubs later this season.’

David Elleray, IFAB technical director and former referee seemed to explain succinctly their position.

‘Football has to decide does it want to use in a system which will bring in greater accuracy and fairness, albeit with some delay occasionally. Or do they want to stay where they are, where the fans are complaining that something is clearly wrong, everybody watching on television can see it was wrong, everybody in the stadium can see on their mobile phones that it was wrong, but the one person who needed to see the replay wasn’t allowed to look at the replay? People have to decide do they want greater fairness or do they want continued unfairness because they don’t want to occasional interruption?’

FIFA’s voting standpoint was also clear from president Gianni Infantino.

‘Let’s look at the facts. We’ve analysed almost 1,000 games and the reality is you lose an average of 90 seconds per game. Is that too long? Perhaps. But we lose an average of seven minutes per game due to throw-ins. If we lose seven minutes on throw-ins, we can lose 90 seconds to get decisions right.’

Even though it has now passed at that level, 14 clubs from the Premier League still need to vote it into law for the top flight and that appears unlikely at this stage, and reports from trials around Europe’s top leagues mimick the English experience so far when it comes to delays, problems and poor application so although the system clearly carries advantages unless it can be implemented in a more speedy, reasonable and clear fashion, at least for now it remains a no go.

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64 Replies to “VARy Low Expectations From The Premier League”

  • I am suspicious that this obviously flawed system is being pushed so hard to become part of the game. It?s not ready yet and needs a lot of work and refinement. I believe it will ruin the World Cup. Why can?t the people pushing it so hard accept that. I would prefer it to be shelved and withdrawn from consideration for the foreseeable future and if folks insist then worked hard on in lower leagues until it is ready, hopefully not in my lifetime.

  • I think the answer for Premiership should be no but we should be willing to continue to trial it in our 2 domestic cup competitions but leave the door open for the following season. We should also be laying down a few conditions ago FIFA s follows: (1) Make it faster and more transparent to the fans in the stadium, eventually being available on the big screens (2) by all means check all goals, but do it whilst the game continues and only overrule a goal in the next minute or so of the game, again transparently to the fans. (3) Have a strong voice that we would rather change the offside rule back to one players offside / team offside than ever try and use technology to interpret the stupid rules that were implemented by FIFA (4) There is an education program in place for players and a clear message that cheating (e.g. shirt pulling) will be zero tolerance regardless of what has happened in the last 2-3 decades. (5) Zero tolerance to any arguing by players or managers about VAR decisions. They need to respect they are part of the implementation process and get behind it and start behaving like their rugby peers.

    Said this before, but there is rarely an implementation of technology that doesn’t go through a few iterations and a tough normalisation process.

  • Comparing VAR time-out to the time taken up for throw-ins makes no sense. Throw-ins are still part of the flow of the game and a player can be pulled up for time wasting if taking too long. It’s the same for goal kicks and free kicks. All of these actions are a necessary part of the rules of the game of soccer. VAR is not.

  • Well, it’s a bit of a catch 22. Nobody is saying it’s perfect at the moment, but the only way to get it to work better is to let it go through growing pains, and eliminate the failures as time goes by… And it’s likely to be ugly at first. I’m a big fan of technology being introduced because the idea of making the game fairer appeals to me. I think the objections, from PL clubs, listed in the article are legitimate; the recent games where VAR was used are proof to that. This being said, poor initial implementation doesn’t mean the project should be abandoned altogether. I think the FIFA president’s points are also fair. If it’s time wasting we’re worried about, he correctly points to other areas where greater gains could be made. VAR is part of the future of football, mostly because many fans want it. Resisting that change in England would be detrimental to the league in the long term. Why not embrace it and be an early example of how to get it right? I don’t think it would take much to get it to work right. As muttley said, a bit more transparency, and as the PL clubs pointed to, a clear commitment from the league to train, and make enough staff available, to implement it right. Over the years, the sport we love has changed many times. This is just the latest change. Resisting it “just because we’ve always done it a certain way before” or “because it’s not like it was in the good old days” is not really a good reason to stop it. At its heart, VAR is designed to make the game fairer and I don’t think any fan should be against that.

  • Totally agree with BS and Muttley on this. The technology is not at fault here; it’s the application of the technology that is causing the problems at present. But all of the problems experienced to date are solvable. It will take some time and a bit of patience. Football is a very low-scoring sport. Far too often incorrect decisions decide the outcome (whether through referee error, players cheating, whatever). This shouldn’t be how matches are won.

  • For me it has nothing to do with the past or the good old days BS. It’s to do with the now and the future. Not all changes are for the good. Not all changes are for the better in everyones opinion. Simply stating that things have changed and will change is no reason in itself to make the change. We’ll see. I may or may not get used to it in time. In real time that is and not in relationship to a different past. What thrills me so much me about football, as much as anything else can, are the imperfections and human error. I can accept that fairness can quite often be unachievable and that ‘fairness’ is not always so black and white, necessarily objective or indeed all that fair.

  • “If we lose seven minutes on throw-ins, we can lose 90 seconds to get decisions right.”

    Therein lies the rub. In reality in the FA match the other night, we lost minutes, not seconds, and got the decisions wrong. VAR will be as popular as has been VAT. I prefer that wrong decisions be made without reducing a match to the pace of cricket. Could have boiled sufficient water to make a pot of tea in the time it took to watch the official on the headset waiting for a decision from some daemon of VAR.

  • HT – we all have different opinions (which is fine) but I don’t think FIFA is trying to alienate football fans worldwide if there wasn’t quite a bit of evidence that this is in fact what a majority of fans want. Depending on which side of the VAR debate one stands, they’ll either like it or not, for a variety of reasons, some valid, some less so. But I suppose that FIFA are doing this because it’s what the majority wants. I suppose it’s a bit like Levy’s management of the club – in the end there’s little one can do except voice displeasure.

  • How does this then all translate into lower league football, school football, park football? There’ll be angry mums, wives, girlfriends, dads, mates, all with their smart phones, showing endless replays to the poor bloody assistant ref standing on the by-line wishing he was waiting for a bus and not a final decision.

  • As to the notion that things change and we need to accept them, I’ll never accept the hours upon hours lost to absurd searches of my body at airports, taking off my shoes and belt and trying to hold up my pants while I’m told to hole my hands out to the side. I’ll never accept the time lost watching the spinning beach ball of death on my computer screen. I’ll never accept the change of format of Vital Spurs to the format we have now. Bring back the past and do it fast. Accept a mal-functioning VAR just because times change? We might as well allow the demand of the Orange-Scourged American President to give automatic weapons to all our school teachers. Don’t worry, we’ll have video reviews after the shootings in the kindergartens. It’s just that the times they are a’ changing.

  • David O’Brien – the decisions took time but overall I thought every decision made by VAR against Rochdale was the correct one. Some went against us but that doesn’t mean they were incorrect decisions. Once explained, they all made sense. So again it all comes back down to how quickly a decision can be explained to the fan. Other sports (rugby, the NFL) do a much better job of justifying a decision to the fans rapidly. That’s what football needs to aim for.

  • FIFA may not be trying to alienate fans but it doesn’t mean they don’t, won’t or haven’t… Besides which I will accept it as a change and give it my time and respect. If it comes in full time, I’ll have no choice. Like I’ve said, I may simply get used to it even if I don’t as now, want it.

  • David – were they so wrong though? Llorente and the defender were clearly shirt pulling. No goal should ever be given when players are cheating but we’ve just got used to it happening over the years. It was news to me, but Trippier’s penalty was legit according to a conversation the day after on TalkSport. Again, the referees have been taking the easy way out by always giving the free-kick outside of the box for way too long when they’ve had to make the call. For me, this is where it gets interesting as we’ll start to see some different decisions (rather than wrong) than we’re used to if the letters of the law are implemented using technology. In the process, if it eradicates the cheating then even better. Not that it’s ready for prime time, but I can see it taking us in a good direction eventually and getting us back to the purer form of the game that we started with.

  • But there have since been pro refs that did not agree with all of the decisions, BS. How can that be so?

  • David – see that’s just another question of perspective. They can put me through as many scans and searches as they want, as long as they guarantee that my plane won’t be blown up mid flight by someone who managed to get a bomb past security. it’s a small price to pay in my opinion. And this is coming from a frequent flyer who sits on a plane on an almost weekly basis. Just goes to show that the world is full of opinions ;-).

  • The Study of the Exact Science of Fouling and Foul play in Sport. By Dr. IAM Perfect. Not the most exciting read, I must say. 🙂

  • HT – “How does this then all translate into lower league football, school football, park football?” most of those games don’t even have linesmen. There is always going to be a big difference between top flight football and grassroots football. That’s inevitable. Most fans are OK with goal line technology, yet that’s never going to be implemented all the way down the food chain. That’s a poor excuse not to do it for me.

  • If VAR can be made less intrusive and decisions can be made as rapidly as I can make them by watching a replay on BT Sports, then I don’t see the issue. Obviously in its current format, it is an absolute mess, but in time, you’d expect it to improve and public support to grow. At the highest level, theres just too much on the line these days, not to use the technology available.

  • Son should have been able to retake his penalty vs Rochdale, due to encroachment by half the players on the pitch, prior to Sons “stop”, so that was an incorrect decision. Nothing to do with VAR however, but with the incompetence of officials on the day. VAR will not have 100% accuracy, but it will aid referees in getting a lot more decisions right than they would have without it.

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