Hackett’s Verdict: VAR System Is In Its Experimental Stage

Hackett’s Verdict: VAR System Is In Its Experimental Stage

I watched once again with great interest the way that Rugby Union makes full use of the Video Assistant Referee. The All Blacks player Sonny Bill Williams was guilty of a shoulder charge on Lions winger Anthony Watson and play was allowed to continue to wait and see if anything positive materialised.

Play was then stopped and the French referee Jerome Garces made a rectangular signal to clearly indicate that he was going to review. The crowd inside the stadium and those watching on television could see the challenge and listen in to the referee's conversation with both his touch judges at his side who had joined him on the field. The referee made it clear to his colleagues that he saw the challenge as a red card. Both touch judges are international referees and one suggested along with the video referee that Jerome take another look from a further angle. There was no rush as the officials followed a straightforward protocol.

The replay left no one in any doubt and the referee did not hesitate in showing the red card. He then explained to the All Blacks captain that he would not tolerate foul play around the vulnerable head/neck area and that is why he had issued a red card.

This is the process football must go through, allowing confidence in our officials to have a second look and then not been rushed to make an accurate decision. Time is not the issue, the system must ensure that the process delivers an accurate decision. The protocol must enhance the authority of the referee who is the decision maker, not undermine him with a complicated process.

Compare that process and then look at how football has put the use of the Video Assistant Referee System in jeopardy by delivering a complex criteria and protocol.

The match officials officiating at the Confederations Cup were given a comprehensive presentation on how they were to implement the video review procedure. I share some of this with you.

VIDEO ASSISTANT REFEREE

Minimum Interference – Maximum Benefit is the headline.

Only for CLEAR MATCH-CHANGING DECISIONS/SERIOUS MISSED incidents

The VAR must ask WAS THE DECISION CLEARLY WRONG?

In the Confederations Cup they operated with a Video Assistant Referee and an Assistant Video Assistant Referee.

VAR1 – Leader of the VAR team

  • Tags incidents in the video system i.e Possible offside/foul….
  • Communicates with the replay operator and the referee
  • Checks all potential incidents (according to IFAB protocol)
  • Suggests a review to the referee if a clear mistake happens

AVAR (Assistant VAR)

  • Always follows live play (especially important while VAR1 is checking/reviewing)
  • Tags incidents
  • Gives a live commentary to VAR1 of what is happening on the field of play during a check or review (decision taken by referee, where is the ball, if there is a second incident.
  • Informs VAR1 (or directly to the referee) if it is necessary to stop play or delay a restart.

VAR2  Reserve Assistant Referee

  • Follows TV programme + helps  with offside

REVIEWABLE INCIDENTS

1. MISTAKEN IDENTITY

  • VAR must assist PROACTIVELY the referee , so the correct player will be disciplined.
  • VAR should not wait until the referee cautions or sends off a wrong player, so if he detects the referee is going to commit that mistake, be proactive.
  • VAR should check if the referee cautions or sends off the WRONG PLAYER (including the wrong team)
  • The VAR must check the number/team of disciplined player between VAR/REFEREE after every card

2. GOALS

  • After a goal is scored, the VAR should check
  • OFFSIDE: position and offence
  • POSSIBLE OFFENCE by the attacking team in the build up to the goal
  • BALL OUT OF PLAY prior to the goal.
  • GOAL/NO GOAL when GLT is not provided (ball completely ovrer the goal line)

3. PENALTY INCIDENTS

  • After any possible penalty incident the VAR should check
  • Offence is PENALTY OR NOT
  • INSIDE or OUTSIDE the penalty area
  • OFFENCE BY THE ATTACKING TEAM in the build up to the penalty incident
  • BALL OUT OF PLAY prior to penalty incident

4. RED CARD INCIDENTS

  • Only DIRECT sending off offences and not a second caution (YC)
  • DOGSO situations according to the Laws of the game
  • SERIOUS FOUL PLAY
  • VIOLENT CONDUCT

HOW FAR TO CHECK/REVIEW

A - RED CARD (except DOGSO) + Mistaken Identity

  • Only the incident is reviewed

B - GOAL, PENALTY INCIDENT OR DOGSO

  • The attacking phase which led to the incident, including :
    Gaining of possession in open play, but
    Not the restart decision – throw in, corner kick, free kicks…
    Not the restart: foul throw in, moving ball at free kicks, UNLESS WRONG LAW Application ie 2 touches by the kicker
  • Goal directly from an indirect free kick or throw in

WHAT SPEED SHOULD BE USED?

SLOW MOTION REPLAYS only be used for

  • POINT OF CONTACT for physical offences and HANDBALL.

Normal speed replays should be used for

  • INTENSITY of an offence or
  • To determine if a handball was DELIBERATE.

There is no doubt in my mind that the authorities are trying to eliminate the errors that we have witnessed in the early stages of the experiment. However more practical training is required for the officials.

I was pleased to learn that the Football Association, who are introducing the VAR in the FA Cup next season, are looking to recruit former Premier League referees to take up the role of VAR. I can think of a number of former referees who would take to this role like a duck to water.