VAR's four mistakes in four Premier League games revealed
By Bryan Swanson, Chief Reporter, Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 22/11/19 10:27pm
Four key decisions in four games have been wrongly overturned after the intervention of Video Assistant Referees (VARs) in the Premier League.
But, after clubs held lengthy talks on the technology last week, accurate decisions are up nine per cent on last season following VAR's introduction this summer.
Mike Riley, the former referee in charge of the league's top officials, insists: "We're far from perfect, we've got to improve the way that we do things. But it will happen because it happens everywhere."
In two weeks, VARs incorrectly changed on-field refereeing decisions involving:
- Daniel James' penalty for Manchester United v Norwich;
- Aaron Connolly's penalty for Brighton v Everton;
- Gerard Deulofeu's penalty for Watford v Chelsea;
- Sokratis's goal for Arsenal v Crystal Palace.
"I remember talking to Howard (Webb) when he had been working at MLS (Major League Soccer) for a while," says Riley. "He said the worst outcome is when the refereeing team on the field of play made the right decision, the VAR intervenes to make the wrong decision.
"But it will happen because it happens everywhere, and part of the balance in understanding clear and obvious is, if we're trying to protect against that, there will be times we don't intervene when everyone thinks we should.
"But still that's a better place to be than intervening where everyone thinks 'No, we definitely shouldn't'."
After 120 games, VAR has helped overturn more 'clear and obvious' errors from on-field match officials following its high-profile implementation.
VAR never promised to deliver 100 per cent accuracy and, at a club meeting on November 14, Riley revealed:
- Key Match Incident accuracy had risen to 91 per cent from 82 per cent last season;
- Only three per cent of decisions took longer than 90 seconds;
- 97 per cent of all goals were cleared in under a minute.
"Look at any country that's implemented VAR and everyone in the game has to go through that learning curve together," explains Riley.
"You look at other competitions that currently use VAR. In Europe I think some countries are in their third year and they're still having the same debates, probably more refined but still the same things."
From next month, the Premier League will add more information onto big screens when a VAR review is in progress. They will also hold further talks with supporters' groups to improve the experience for fans inside the stadium.
Under the laws of the game, supporters cannot listen to the decision-making of match officials.
The Referee Review Area (RRA) has failed to be used in any Premier League game.
Riley told clubs there had been no unseen decisions, or anything outside of a referee's range of expectations, so there had been no need to slow down the pace and tempo of a game by using monitors.
FIFA recommends that monitors are used before overturning key decisions and Riley expects the RRAs to be used at some point in the future.
Offsides, handballs and penalties
Riley showed clubs several PowerPoint slides, highlighting in detail the measures used to establish whether a player is offside, including the 3D cross-hair system from Hawk-Eye.
The system highlights the relevant part of the attacker's body, and how the arm/chest is now differentiated by drawing a line from the top of the shoulder down through the armpit.
It is understood that football's lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), are looking at the offside law, given how VAR is now used in games.
Match officials hold weekly meetings with the Premier League, which includes feedback from clubs and managers.
VAR against certain clubs?
There have been 28 overturned decisions in the Premier League this season, and no club has complained about feeling 'singled out' for unfair treatment.
Riley told Sky Sports News: "One of the really encouraging things about the debate last week was, undoubtedly, it can affect clubs differently at different points of the season. But actually it was 20 clubs saying 'how do we make this a system that really benefits Premier League football.'"
IFAB officials will meet on December 3 in Belfast and discuss VAR's implementation across world football.