Video Assistant Referee

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PL refs chief: Four VAR mistakes this year

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Premier League referee chief Mike Riley says that four incidents review by VAR this season did not produce the correct decision.

There have been 227 incidents reviewed by VAR so far this season. Of those reviewed and unreviewed, a call has wronged Watford, Man City, West Ham, and Bournemouth. (The Cherries have both benefited and been harmed by an error).

[ MORE: Poch has Spurs “re-focusing” ]

Why have the errors been made?

“A combination of factors,” Riley said, via Sky Sports. “That is the fascinating thing as this project evolves, we are constantly learning. We are trying not to disrupt the flow of the game but on these occasions, the judgement should have been that it was a clear and obvious error.”

“One of the really positive things about the first four match rounds has been the quality of on-field performances,” he added. “All the referees have incorporated the things we need to do with VAR into their refereeing while still focusing on making real-time decisions.”

So where has VAR failed so far? Some were seemingly minor, others game-changing, and one possibly job-altering.

  • A missed handball in the lead-up to Fabian Schar’s equalizer against Watford, which ended in a 1-1 draw and, ultimately, the firing of Javi Gracia
  • An unawarded penalty to Man City’s David Silva after Bournemouth’s Jefferson Lerma stepped on his foot in the box (City won 3-1)
  • An ungiven red card when Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans stomped on Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson (The Cherries lost 3-1)
  • No penalty awarded to West Ham’s Sebastian Haller after being dragged down in the box (The Irons still won 2-0)

New handball rules leading to more criticism of VAR in Germany

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BERLIN (AP) Newly implemented handball rules in soccer were supposed to provide greater clarity for those playing or watching the game.

In Germany, they are causing confusion and leading to renewed criticism of the increasingly unpopular video assistant referee.

Two decisions in Saturday’s top game between Schalke and Bayern Munich, and others scattered among other Bundesliga games over the weekend, led players, fans, coaches – and even former referees – to question whether the changes are benefiting the game at all.

“How rules are changed again and again is making football worse,” Werder Bremen striker Niclas Fullkrug said after he had a goal ruled out in his side’s 3-2 loss at Hoffenheim on Saturday.

Fullkrug had thought he’d equalized but VAR intervened after the ball touched his arm.

“I don’t understand it. But according to the rules it isn’t a goal,” Fullkrug said.

The new rule states that even an accidental handball by the attacking player will be penalized, leading to a sarcastic reaction from Fullkrug’s teammate Kevin Mohwald.

“That’s the new brilliant rule that we have. It’s top,” Mohwald said.

Freiburg felt hard done by in a game at Paderborn when it wasn’t awarded a penalty after Jerome Gondorf’s free kick struck defending Paderborn captain Christian Strohdiek’s arm.

“What upsets me is that there is a difference between handball by a forward and handball by a defender. That’s causing discussions without end,” former referee Thorsten Kinhofer wrote in a column for the mass circulation “Bild am Sonntag” tabloid.

Schalke coach David Wagner was aggrieved not to get two penalties against Bayern.

“Honestly, I’m looking forward to an explanation,” Wagner said.

Bayern defender Benjamin Pavard’s arm blocked a header from Matija Nastasic, then Daniel Caligiuri’s free kick was deflected out of play by Ivan Perisic’s arm.

Referee Marco Fritz allowed play continue and did not review the scenes again. Fritz later said he did not receive a signal from video assistant Bastian Dankert in Cologne that there had been an error.

Lutz Michael Frohlich, the German soccer federation’s head of the referees, acknowledged that Fritz should have checked again.

“For the power of persuasion and the effect externally, it would probably have been best if he’d formed his own picture,” Frohlich told broadcaster Sport1.

Patience is running thin, with Borussia Moenchengladbach coach Marco Rose another to add his voice to the criticism.

“If you don’t at least go out and look at it again, then I also don’t understand the point of the video referee,” Rose said.

Wolves boss Espirito Santo not a fan of VAR

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It comes as little surprise that Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo was upset to have a goal chalked off by VAR in a scoreless draw with Leicester City.

What may come as a surprise, though, is Espirito Santo’s full-throated questioning of the use of video review at all.

[ RECAP: Leicester-Wolves ]

Espirito Santo will earn a lot of fans amongst the VAR skeptics with this analysis/rant regarding the overturning of Leander Dendoncker‘s goal due to Willy Boly handling the ball before the Belgian bundled over the line.

“I haven’t seen the images but I trust them. If they saw it, what can we do?” he said. “Things that weren’t before shouldn’t be now. We have such a nice Premier League, such a product, we cannot lose that.”

He continued (via BBC.com):

“It’s what fans come for, to celebrate, not to celebrate a no goal; That’s not the real celebration of football. It’s not good for the atmosphere of football. The Leicester fans were celebrating the no goal, that’s not the mindset of the game.

“What I’m concerned about is, let’s not ruin the game. Two minutes the game stopped. The anxiety of us celebrating, then we waited. It’s not the spirit of the game.”

Do you agree, or have you just accepted that this is the future of sport?

The three points would’ve been glorious for a Wolves side which played Thursday in Armenia, but one will be valuable given it came against a Foxes side expected to compete for a Top Seven place in the Premier League.

Nothing to separate Leicester, Wolves in opener

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Leicester City couldn’t find a way past Europa League weary Wolves, who saw a goal overturned in a dull 0-0 draw at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leander Dendoncker bundled a loose ball over the line, but it had glanced off Wily Boly’s arm and VAR overturned the marker.


Three things we learned

1. Possession without finish is nothing; Leicester had 70 percent of the ball but could not finish despite taking almost 400 more touches than Wolves

2. It’s early to say that Wolves’ failure to do much besides clear the ball was down to depth, but the club certainly looked like one who won 4-0 over Pyunik in Armenia on Thursday

3. VAR is not just a bummer for the aggrieved club, it hurts fantasy owners. Dendoncker is a very cheap option and, frankly, we momentarily hated VAR.

Man of the Match: Wilfried Ndidi.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Guardiola, Pellegrini react to VAR fest on Opening Day

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Manchester City’s 5-0 blowout of West Ham United saw a masterclass from Raheem Sterling, but much of the post-game focus revolved around VAR.

Goals were overturned, a red card was not given, and a penalty withstood video review as referee Mike Dean was largely relegated to his ear piece.

[ RECAP: West Ham 0-5 Man City ]

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini, at least on the day, chose to stay positive about the new world of Premier League football with VAR.

From the BBC:

“It is not easy to get used to it, but I think the result will be fairer if we use it in the right moments. Football is so fast today it is impossible for referees to see all. It will improve football.”

The London Stadium came alive when Man City’s third goal was overturned by VAR, the supporters finding new belief in a 2-0 score line, and Guardiola said there are sure to be plenty of new experiences on account of the technology.

“You have to be mentally strong when VAR is not on our side,” Guardiola said. “You think at 0-3 the game is almost over but at 0-2, the game is completely different. You have to be calm and be strong, it is going to change the dynamic not just for the team but for the spectators. It will be a good lesson for our future.”