Last night we saw more VAR controversy during Tottenham’s 6-1 thrashing of League One Rochdale. It was in the first half where we saw the experiment take centre stage with three different incidents to discuss:

  1. Erik Lamela’s disallowed goal – In real-time I didn’t see any foul in the buildup; in fact if there was one it would have gone in Spurs favour. So when the goal goes in you’re thinking, 1-0 Tottenham. But then the VAR intervenes.
    Now we know the VAR is there and will check every goal, but the problem here is, this was not a clear and obvious error, so why is the VAR getting involved?
    If the VAR does think that’s a clear and obvious error, then it’s subjective one, so Graham Scott should be telling Paul Tierney to go and view the monitor. If he does that then I think he’d give the goal.
    Graham is refereeing Liverpool v Newcastle this weekend and you’re not telling me that if the same incident happens in that game, he’s not giving the goal.
  2. We then have the assistant referee signal for a foul outside the area and the VAR overturns the decision into a penalty. Correct decision.
    I have sympathy for the AR Andy Garrett here because he wasn’t sure and in that case you give it outside. The VAR can then come in and amend if necessary. Once again though we need to be getting to that decision quicker, I don’t understand why it took so long.
  3. The resulting penalty saw Son Heung-min cautioned for unsporting behaviour by the referee after he feinted in his run-up. You certainly can’t criticise Paul Tierney for that. If Son feints halfway through then you could say he’s doing so within the Laws of the Game, but his next step, after the feint is to play the ball. So for me Paul was correct to do what he did.
    I think maybe a more experienced referee might have been more aware of the encroachment and ordered a re-take of the penalty. I don’t think anyone would have complained about that.

Finally watching last night’s coverage I couldn’t help but notice Chris Foy’s input when being questioned by the BT Sport team. Clearly he’s an employee of the PGMOL and I understand that he will support the VAR as much as he can, but if you are in that role then you should be informing the public straightaway and telling us what should have happened. We don’t want to hear from someone who is just going to sit on the fence.

He seemed to completely miss the questions surrounding ‘clear and obvious errors’ and for me, and I’m sure the watching audience at home, he provided absolutely nothing to the conversation.


  1. Common sense from Mr Halsey, which was the feature of his refereeing, badly missed by the current generation. Spot on with Chris Foy too, who eventually had to admit the first goal should have stood. In my opinion the VAR should only be used when the ref is not sure in which case he can ask for a review (or look himself) and if the ref has made an obvious error it should be pointed out to him so that he can review it. Using it for every goal is totally unnecessary.

  2. VAR is a shambles. It is slowing down the game and is taking to long for decisions to be made. I heard Mike Riley say that the referee cannot ask for VAR but the VAR must advise there has been an error made! Surely it should be up to the referee when a review is called for. I always thought VAR was not good for the game and nothing I’ve seen during the trialling of it has made me change my mind.

  3. You missed the potential penalty incident that occurred, was (correctly, in my view) not given, and then play went to the other end of the pitch and gone out of play (a foul or a throw-in or something like that). Play has then stopped for a period of time for ref to communicate with VAR and in the end no penalty awarded. I just don’t see the need for all that, surely VAR just looks at the incident, sees no clear and obvious error, and doesn’t need to communicate with the referee causing unnecessary stoppages.

    And as you mentioned, while I was very pleased to see the other penalty correctly awarded by VAR, why did it take so long? The viewer on BT Sport knew that that was a penalty within 20 seconds of the incident happening from the replays we were shown. Why did it take VAR closer to 2 minutes to come to that conclusion?

    As for the disallowed goal, that was just nonsensical, and it is worrying when you see technology coming in to make a completely incorrect decision like that. Overall, not a good showing for VAR at all. Chris Foy mentioned that they have to learn as it is only their 12th game using it, and all I have to say is surely this has been practiced. It feels like no one has a clue what they’re doing, like they really have never used these systems before in any setting. It should have been practiced to death before it was put in front of the public in competitive matches.

  4. I’m sorry, I don’t understand the justification for cautioning Son on the penalty kick. The editorial states that Son’s “… next step, after the feint, is to play the ball.” Law 14 states:

    “… play will be stopped and restarted with an indirect free kick, regardless of whether or not a goal is scored:

    … feinting to kick the ball once the kicker has completed the run-up (feinting in the run-up is permitted); the referee cautions the kicker.”

    Son executes his feint a full yard from the ball. He has not “completed his run-up”, therefore he has not violated Law 14.

    The clause referred to in Law 14 explicitly forbids the kind of action shown in this clip:

    I find Tierney to have misapplied Law 14 on this play, which, ironically, would be a VAR failure as well, as the VAR would be entitled to intervene here.


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