Aston Villa’s Smith: If VAR can see Watkins offside, then it sees foul in box


Dean Smith doesn’t understand why a shirt sleeve can make a player offside, but if it can and is caused by a foul then why wasn’t his Aston Villa side given a penalty on Monday?

The statement reads a bit convoluted to those who missed Villa’s 2-1 loss to West Ham United on Monday in London, but anyone who caught the end will instantly understand Smith’s consternation.

Ollie Watkins’ stoppage-time equalizer was taken off the board after a three-minute VAR review that involved comparing the bottom of the forward’s shirt sleeve to one West Ham player’s foot and another’s shirt sleeve.


Smith already doesn’t like that rule, as a player cannot score with his sleeve anyway, but he’s even more upset with the rationale behind the call given his observation that Watkins’ arm was only forward due to contact from West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna.

And doesn’t he have a point?

“The only reason his arm is out there is because he’s getting fouled,” Smith said. “So he either scores or it’s a penalty. I still don’t understand. I’m okay if it’s a red line and he says he’s offside. But if his arm is there because he’s getting fouled then that’s a penalty.”

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The video of the incident is below. What do you think? Is Ogbonna fouling Watkins? By the same logic, did the foul only stop Watkins from being clearly offside instead of millimeters off?

It all seems like the opposite of clear and obvious, but VAR is there to get it right and it’s still a relatively young system.

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