By Dick Sawdon Smith
It is fair to say, I think, that for Premier League fans, the most complaints last season came from decisions made by VARs. Video Assistant Referees.
It was not only fans who were disappointed by the Premier League’s use of VAR.
At the annual meeting of the game’s law makers, the International FA Board, a great deal of time was spent in discussing, and to some extent criticising, its introduction into the English game.
One of the biggest criticism was that the Premier League tried to use it differently to any other country.
One way was the decision by Premier League referees, not to consult the pitch side monitors and leave it to the VAR to tell the on-pitch referee, what decisions to make.
Perhaps this came about because of some complaints about the time decisions took, in the countries where it had been trialled.
So who are the VARs? They are made up of Select Group one referees who take Premier League matches and some Select Group two who take mostly Championship games.
So one day they would be in the middle, refereeing a game, and the next could be the VAR, surrounded by television screens looking for something the on-pitch referee might not have seen.
It is expected that any such incident will be reported to the on-field referee , who then decides whether or not to review it at the monitor. It was never intended that the VAR should be used in such a way as to supersede the referee’s authority for the Laws of the Game, which say the referee’s decisions connected with play, remains final.
In America for instance, when the VAR feels a mistake has been made, he ‘recommends a review’ to the on-field referee.
Gianni Infantine, the President of FIFA, was reported as being incensed at the Premier League’s action.
Now that FIFA have taken over from IFAB for the application of VAR, saying it wants it to be the same in every country it is used, I can safely say, viewers will see a lot more reviews by referees in future.