VAR condensed from “clear and obvious” errors…Err?


The following is a condensed version of the full and extremely long-winded official VAR rules

The use of VARs in football matches is based on a number of principles, all of which must apply in every match using VARs.

  1. A video assistant referee (VAR) is a match official, with independent access to match footage, who may assist the referee only in the event of a ‘clear and obvious error’ or ‘serious missed incident’ in relation to:
  2. Goal/no goal
  3. Penalty/no penalty
  4. Direct red card(not second yellow card/caution)
  5. Mistaken identity(when the referee cautions or sends off the wrong player of the offending team)
  6. The referee must always make a decision, i.e. the referee is not permitted to give ‘no decision’ and then use the VAR to make the decision; a decision to allow play to continue after an alleged offence can be reviewed.
  7. The original decision given by the referee will not be changed unless the video review clearly shows that the decision was a ‘clear and obvious error’.
  8. Only the referee can initiate a ‘review’; the VAR (and other match officials) can only recommend a ‘review’ to the referee.
  9. The final decision is always taken by the referee, either based on information from the VAR or after the referee has undertaken an ‘on-field review’ (OFR).
  10. There is no time limit for the review process as accuracy is more important than speed.
  11. The players and team officials must not surround the referee or attempt to influence if a decision is reviewed, the review process or the final decision.
  12. The referee must remain ‘visible’ during the review process to ensure transparency.
  13. If play continues after an incident which is then reviewed, any disciplinary action taken/required during the post-incident period is not cancelled, even if the original decision is changed (except a caution/sending-off for stopping or interfering with a promising attack or DOGSO).
  14. If play has stopped and been restarted, the referee may not undertake a ‘review’ except for a case of mistaken identity or for a potential sending-off offence relating to violent conduct, spitting, biting or extremely offensive, insulting and/or abusive action(s).
  15. The period of play before and after an incident that can be reviewed is determined by the Laws of the Game and VAR protocol.
  16. As the VAR will automatically ‘check’ every situation/decision, there is no need for coaches or players to request a ‘review’.

Ok, let us have a look at the handball incident last night

In determining whether or not a handball should be penalised the following factors will be considered:

Position of the arm

  • Where the arm is in an expected position given player’s action
  • This includes where the arms are clearly used for balance and/or protection it is less likely to be penalised
  • The arms may be outside the player’s bodyline and may not be penalised

Ability to react

  • Where it is clear that the player does not have the ability to react

Direct shot at goal

  • Whether the contact with the arm clearly blocks a direct shot towards the goal

Can somebody explain what an “expected position” is. I always thought if the ball hits your arm in the penalty area, it`s a penalty  !

Also rule 3 in their document states that the original decision given by the referee will not be changed unless the video review clearly shows that the decision was a ‘clear and obvious error’. Well, if there ever was an example of a ‘clear and obvious error’, we saw it last night.

No further questions, Your Honour..

By Simon Leyland

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