Statement on Aston Villa v Sheffield United VAR, Goal Decision System error

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A statement has been released on the Aston Villa v Sheffield United Goal Decision System and VAR error as a remarkable situation unfolded in the first game of the Premier League restart.

[ RECAP: Villa, Sheff United ]

In short, a situation which has never happened before in over 9,000 matches occurred and prevented the system, operated by Hawk-Eye, from working correctly as the game ended in a 0-0 draw rather than a 1-0 win for Sheffield United.

The moment of controversy arrived just before half time as Oliver Norwood’s free kick looped towards the back post. Aston Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland caught the ball but collided with his own striker Keinan Davis and clearly fell over his own goal-line with the ball.

However, referee Michael Oliver pointed to his watch and indicated that the Goal Decision System (GDS) system didn’t tell him it was a goal. No goal was awarded and VAR didn’t intervene, due to GDS failing, as Sheffield United’s players and staff couldn’t believe it.

Below is the statement in full, as Hawk-Eye apologized ‘unreservedly’ to everyone impacted by the error:

“The match officials did not receive a signal to the watch nor earpiece as per the Goal Decision System (GDS) protocol. The seven cameras located in the stands around the goal area were significantly occluded by the goalkeeper, defender and goalpost. This level of occlusion has never been seen before in over 9,000 matches that the Hawk-Eye Goal Line Technology system has been in operation.

“The system was tested and proved functional prior to the start of the match in accordance with the IFAB Laws of the Game and confirmed as working by the match officials. The system has remained functional throughout. Hawk-Eye unreservedly apologizes to the Premier League, Sheffield United and everyone affected by this incident.”

This was a major error and it worked in Villa’s favor. If at the end of the season they end up staying in the Premier League by one point, the other teams at the bottom will not be happy at all and you could maybe expect legal challenges because of this apology from Hawk-Eye.

Simply put, the Goal Decision System (GDS) didn’t work as Oliver didn’t get an alert on his watch.

Replays showed it clearly crossed the line and VAR should have intervened but it didn’t despite 69 seconds passing before the next break in play. Villa will be relieved, Sheffield United enraged as that extra two points would have put them even closer to the top four and the Champions League. What a mess.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder was far from happy with the decision. Let’s leave it at that.

“I think the goalkeeper was in the Holte End when he caught it – or dragged it back. My issue is obviously one of frustration. Seven cameras haven’t picked it up – the most technical league in the world – everything we see at every angle and it hasn’t seen a goal. That is disappointing from our point of view,” Wilder said.

“We went to Tottenham last year, John Lundstram’s big toe was offside and I was hanging around at White Hart Lane in the pouring rain for 10 minutes waiting for a decision. I don’t understand why I can’t wait 10 minutes in Birmingham. The statement has come out and it is unprecedented, unbelievable. I did have a laugh and joke beforehand that we have had some poor decisions go against us and I said I wouldn’t bet against one going against us this evening.

“We were waiting for somebody at Stockley Park to show a bit of courage and say they will make that decision but if they’ve not seen it and seven cameras haven’t seen it I suppose he will say that it was not their decision to make.