Plenty of debate has been speculated over this past month surrounding the VAR and its introduction to English football in 2018.

We have seen confusion over signals, incorrect VAR reviews, huge delays notably last Saturday, and the latest question that crops up is whether a yellow card can be reviewed, and changed to a red.

The IFAB protocol states the following:

In which situations will the referee be able to request video assistance?Information from the VAR can only be used by the referee if there is a ‘clear and obvious error’ or ‘serious missed incident’ in one of the following categories:

  • Goal /no goal
  • Penalty/no penalty
  • Direct red-card
  • Mistaken identity – i.e. the referee gives a YC or RC to the wrong player of the offending team

No other incidents can be reviewed

This could be seen as slightly confusing. However in Version 8 of the ‘VAR Implementation handbook for competitions’ found on the KNVB website, issued in April 2017, there is a clear answer to our question.

8.14 What should the VAR do if a ‘check’ for a possible red card identifies a ‘missed’ yellow card offence?

The VAR is checking a potential ‘missed’ direct red card but the check reveals that it was not a red card but was a clear yellow card – what should happen?

Nothing – a review can only occur if there has been in a clear error involving a missed red card. If the check reveals that a clear red card was not missed there can not be a review and there should not be any communication with the referee, except to confirm that there was no missed red card.

Missed’ yellow cards can only be issued as part of a review that occurs because of a clear error/serious missed incident involving a goal, penalty, direct red card or mistaken identity.

8.15 Can the referee consult the VAR before deciding whether an
offence is a RC or YC?

If the referee is unsure if an offence is a YC or RC, can there be a review before a card is

No. In principle the referee must make a decision and show a card. The VAR will then check
the incident and can only recommend a review if a clear error has been made. Only in very
exceptional circumstance can there be a ‘review’ before a card is shown.

In the MLS, former Premier League and FIFA match official Howard Webb has been over-seeing the VAR in the 2017 MLS season and in a video also states the same which can be seen below (around 36 minutes in).

Therefore we at YATR find Howard’s explanation perfectly logical and until otherwise will adopt this criteria going forward.

However as YATR Referee Coach Guy Beale adds, the VAR must only change a yellow to a red when a clear and obvious error has occured: “It’s important to remember that VAR’s only work under this criteria.

“It is not for them to intervene because they simply have a different opinion regarding the nature of the offence.

“As with all the decisions which result in VAR interventions in line with the current protocol, the match referee’s decision is final, except in clear cases of fact.”


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