The solution to marginal VAR calls: no lines!

by   |   06/08/2020  44 Comments  [Jump to last]

It seems the problem with marginal VAR calls is not the principle that players shouldn't be punished for having odd body parts ruled against for being mere millimeters offside. That is what has riled fans of the game, seeing the virtual lines used on TV at Stockley Park to make these obviously ridiculous hairline decisions.

The solution: Don't show the lines! Premier League fans watching on TV could no longer have the lines shown on replays to reflect offside calls when the 2020-21 season begins.

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Patrick McFarlane
1 Posted 06/08/2020 at 09:25:08
Technology is being used to justify too many unacceptably bad decisions and now they believe that the public should be hoodwinked into believing that it is the use of lines on a TV screen which is causing the fans outrage.

Good officials understand the game rather than only understanding the rules, there aren't too many modern officials who come across as anything other than over-paid, over-officious, would-be parking attendants.

Whatever happened to the spirit rather than the letter of the law? Perhaps there are too many 'lines' being used by those sat in ivory towers making ad-hoc rules and decisions?

Ray Robinson
2 Posted 06/08/2020 at 10:08:09
Totally agree! Marginal decisions should result in the goal standing. Goals are what the game is all about. No way should a toe or heel be a reason for a goal to be disallowed.

Besides, how are the lines drawn? There was one game early on in the season when Salah scored for Liverpool (forget which match). Initially the lines drawn by Sky proved that he was clearly offside, a few minutes later the "official" lines proved that he was just on-side. Of course, the goal stood. If it had been Sheffield Utd, it wouldn't have. Decisions are also affected by the width of the line.

Only disallow a goal if the decision to give the goal was a clear and obvious error. The referee must be the judge of that by consulting the monitor.

Derek Thomas
3 Posted 06/08/2020 at 10:32:23
Forget the lines. Get rid of VAR – takes away all argument... and then look at getting rid of offside all together.
Dave Abrahams
4 Posted 06/08/2020 at 11:08:03
Derek (3), I agree totally with that, getting rid of VAR. All VAR did was take the biased referees off the pitch and put them in a studio with mikes away from the game.

We are stuck with biased referees, they will always be with us. Okay if you are a top team, not so much for most other teams and it seems like very rarely with Everton.

Tom Bowers
5 Posted 06/08/2020 at 11:19:50
Yes to VAR but not referees overseeing the calls or non-calls. I believe some referees are not clued in to a lot of tricks being used by professional players and frequently miss incidents that could affect the game. Players who often deliberately stand on an opposing player's foot to damage metatarsals are a prime example.

Offside calls should only be called when there is clear daylight and not the width of a nose or a toe or even an arm.

I don't think referees are biased but some are more incompetent than others.

John Keating
6 Posted 06/08/2020 at 11:22:47
Many people have different views and interpretations of what VAR should and should not be about. Personally I would just ask the question... has VAR improved the spectacle and enjoyment of football? In my opinion, it is a resounding NO.

The human errors are still there in abundance, the personal interpretations are still there, however, they are not what we are used too, instantaneous, they are compounded by the ridiculous time it takes to come up with the wrong call. If the right call is given, it is by such fine margins that the game is becoming sterile.

No, for me, VAR is a bridge too far. In my opinion, it is, in the main, a failure and should be binned at the earliest opportunity. It is ruining the game we love.

Tony Abrahams
7 Posted 06/08/2020 at 11:51:38
My, my, hey, hey, VAR is here to stay. They'll give you this – but not today – when they bend the rules, and make your team pay!

Some things get worse before they get better, but just after the restart, Sheffield Utd, who were pushing the top four at the time, scored a goal at Villa, until the “camera lied” (if not a totally sackable offence - for the VAR ref) and consequently sent Bournemouth into the Championship.

We got away with one years ago at Bolton, that consequently sent down The Trotters instead of us, but, my my, the cheating will only get worse once the fuckers don't even have to justify it.

Paul Tran
8 Posted 06/08/2020 at 12:18:06
Have it for if the ball has crossed the line and nothing else.

It has created extra levels of bureaucracy and more arguments. Like the 'drinks breaks', my view is that this is an imposition of artificial 'excitement' for TV, advertising and those with no attention span.

It is an insult the the paying, match-going fan and those of us who remember and cherish exciting, flowing football.

Darren Hind
9 Posted 06/08/2020 at 12:28:02
Good post, Tony.

Mike Corcoran
10 Posted 06/08/2020 at 12:28:09
Not often we get a Neil Young pastiche on here, Tony, keep it up!
Darren Hind
11 Posted 06/08/2020 at 12:45:59
He was simply waking you up to tell you that it was only a change of plan.
Paul Tran
12 Posted 06/08/2020 at 12:57:49
Saw it on the tube... Bought it on the phone.

When I got it home, it was a piece of crap.

Ray Robinson
13 Posted 06/08/2020 at 13:20:44
Tony, you're right about that "goal" at Bolton that was disallowed and subsequently allowed us to stay up at their expense. And would VAR have overruled our penalty against Wimbledon?

However, I believe that if the Sheffield United goal had stood at Villa Park this season, Villa would still have stayed up on the basis of having scored one more goal than Bournemouth. The tightest of margins possible!

Patrick McFarlane
14 Posted 06/08/2020 at 14:02:19
My memory of that Bolton match in September 1997 was that the referee had awarded a foul in favour of Everton because Southall had been hampered, but I probably made that up to justify the disallowed goal. Anyway, I've been searching YouTube for footage of the incident but even in the Everton season review, that game got glossed over so no luck there.

Whilst searching, I came across this 25-minute 'Story of 1969-70 campaign' which is well worth a viewing, not a great deal of match footage but lots of comment by the players mostly from Joe Royle.

Story of 1970

Tony Everan
15 Posted 06/08/2020 at 14:03:04
They will be controlling the outcome of matches without any transparency.

Corruption has never been far away in football and therefore the exact opposite of this decision is needed. More openness and transparency not less.

I still think that there should be a few cm of grey area for margin of error. If the striker is offside by a few mm then the tech just isn’t good enough to say for certain and the goal should stand.

In cricket they play the 3rd umpire’s thoughts and deliberation when deciding the outcome. Why not the VAR referee. It would certainly keep them honest and on their toes.

Drawing a cloak of secrecy around their decisions is a retrograde step where laziness and corruption will thrive. It will cause much more concern over the whole process.

John Raftery
16 Posted 06/08/2020 at 14:43:11
Scrap the whole thing. I have my ‘Fuck VAR' badge which I look forward to wearing if or when I next attend a match.

I also think the offside law should be scrapped or at least overhauled. The latter will require some careful thought and imagination, probably beyond the wit of the game's current lawmakers.

One experiment I would like to see involves play outside the penalty area. Providing an attacker is running forwards as the pass is played, he is onside. That would discourage defenders from playing a high line and in turn create more space for play in midfield.

John McFarlane Snr
17 Posted 06/08/2020 at 15:00:35
Hi John, aka Patrick [14],

After watching the 1970 action perhaps you'll understand my clinging to the past. Good football, and passion in abundance, sadly a bit before your time.

Patrick McFarlane
18 Posted 06/08/2020 at 15:12:15
Yes John #17,

I envy you the two fine teams that you saw under Catterick's tutelage, it's such a shame that there's not much footage of that period available unlike the wall-to-wall coverage of today's game. Hope you're keeping safe and well.

Jack Convery
19 Posted 06/08/2020 at 16:42:36
Find a high cliff and drop it over the edge. It's never done EFC any favours. Cost us a ridiculous penalty at Brighton and a win versus the Mancs – just to name 2 instances of its crappiness.
Trevor Powell
20 Posted 06/08/2020 at 18:12:57
Personally, I would like to see the system used in tennis and cricket. Each team gets three challenges per game; if successful, the challenge is kept; unsuccessful and it's lost.

Watching India playing England a couple of years ago, their captain, Kohli, wasted so many with stupid challenges that he lost out on not being able to make other challenges which would have been successful.

KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid. Appoint two refs per game, one on the pitch and one at ground level with a monitor to view the decision with his/her decision as final. Hopefully, this would stop outside interfence and managers/captains would learn when to challenge effectively!

Just waiting to be told that I am a wally for daring to think this way!

Mike Allison
21 Posted 06/08/2020 at 19:13:28
Southall was fouled but it wasn't given. Two wrong decisions ended up with the correct outcome. It's bad enough that the media tried to sell the bullshit that we were lucky without Evertonians helping the myth.

As for VAR, it should be in place but it's being run by people who just aren't very competent. Add to that the fact that handball and offside rules were changed in an attempt to create artificial black and white in a sport that is full of grey areas and we've ended up with more bad decisions than we were getting before.

There's been a complete lack of common sense and football knowledge in bringing in VAR. It's a system designed by lawyers, not footballers.

Dave Abrahams
22 Posted 06/08/2020 at 21:06:13
Ray (13), surely, if the Sheffield Unt goal would have stood then Villa would have gone down. I think the way the season finished, as it stood, Bournemouth had a better goal average and that extra goal against them would have increased Bournemouth's advantage.
Keith Dempsey
23 Posted 06/08/2020 at 21:07:42
I think there were still quite a few games to go when the Bolton match was played, so I don't think it was as a big a deciding factor in the relegation places as some of the media made out.
Rob Halligan
25 Posted 06/08/2020 at 21:18:35
Keith, that game at Bolton was their first game in their new stadium, so they had another 18 games at home. I think it was played in early September, with their first three or four games of the season played away as the new stadium wasn't quite ready.

So that disallowed goal did not send them down, and as Mike Allison rightly points out, it was a definite foul on Southall which even us down the other end could clearly see.

Will Mabon
26 Posted 06/08/2020 at 21:31:43
VAR is just another step along the way to the globalist panacea. Football, as the sports elixir of the masses in a huge proportion of the world, was never going to escape.

We're in an age where all areas of life are being held to tighter standards of control and so-called "efficiency". Of course, the only answers to this are hyper-monitoring, computers and digitization: just like off the pitch.

It is being forced into everything. Whether or not it makes an improvement in the eyes of those on the receiving end, is immaterial. The acceptance of its presence here is the initial goal – not improvement of the sport. The Machine. You can't get away now, for even 90 minutes once or twice a week.

For more than a century of football, players, fans, everybody in the sport, all had the same instinctive understanding of the vagaries of the game. Mistakes, events missed, misinterpretations, moral injustices, undeserved victories.

No-one would ever ask for these anomalies. Their existence was simply a part of the deal when humans engaged in competitive sport. Equally, the real extremes of behaviour and outcome were known to all, the boundaries intuitive, and action was taken when necessary – mostly the correct action. Football worked pretty well I thought. I loved it.

After just a couple of years, we're now all discussing the details of VAR. Changes, improvements, updates. The question of whether it should even be here, is slowly fading away. It's now all but inveigled itself into the fabric of our sport. It won't be going away anytime soon.

I listen to a lot of sport radio as I go about my day. Much of the time when driving, too. I'm about sick of VAR talk. It's so prolific. It feels as much like an engineered talking point, hammered and consolidated into place. Kneecaps offside? Heads, shoulders? Really? Line or no line? We're being played with, I believe.

The problems are not due to people that don't know football, or incompetence. It's working just as intended, and we ain't seen nothing yet. Mike said it above: artificial black and white in a sport full of grey areas. That grey was human, we're human, and all was fine.

True that the system was not designed (or at least, instigated) by footballers, or with sporting intent. "Lawyers" is sort of closer to the real driver behind it – but that's another story. If there is ever a chance to get VAR out, and I don't hold my breath, I hope it's taken.

Dave Abrahams
27 Posted 06/08/2020 at 21:45:02
Will (26), a very good post, written by someone who understands football the way a good proportion of fans remember the way it once was: a sporting spectacle with faults, but mostly enjoyable.

Those days are fading with every passing season.

Ed Prytherch
28 Posted 06/08/2020 at 21:57:18
VAR has done a lot to reduce diving for penalties and I am thankful for that. Also, goalies leaving the line early on penalties.

As for offside, you are either on or off. Why should a wrong decision be allowed because it was close? We all know who will get the benefit of those.

My problem is with the incompetence of VAR officials who have made some shocking decisions. That does not mean that the system is bad – just that the same clowns who make bad decisions on the field are now making them a hundred miles away.

Alan McKie
29 Posted 06/08/2020 at 21:59:22
I don't contribute very often on this site, but I do view comments made on a daily basis. I despise, Fifa, Uefa, the Premier League, VAR, and all the shit that goes with it. Just give us our game back, you are strangling it to death.

Big knobs in Ivory towers, making decisions to line there own pockets. Can you just fuck off, I want my game back, please.

Will Mabon
30 Posted 06/08/2020 at 22:01:15
That's what it was, Dave... an enjoyable sporting spectacle. Kind of shifting towards a construct now. Guess I'll stick around to suffer a while...
Ray Roche
31 Posted 06/08/2020 at 22:10:05
VAR has given referees the opportunity to hide behind the decisions of the VAR referee in an office miles from the action. It's a cowards way out, underlined by that odious little shit Mike Riley. The Suppository, so far up the arses of the managers of the Big Four (as was) he could see Clattenbergs feet.


Ray Robinson
32 Posted 06/08/2020 at 22:17:14
Tony 7 & Dave 22, you're both right. My mistake, I thought Villa had a better goal difference by 1 than Bournemouth. It was the other way round!
Will Mabon
33 Posted 06/08/2020 at 22:32:49
Ed, I know what you're saying, off is off, right and wrong, and so on. Problem is, the resolution of events is being taken to levels beyond normal human perception. If it needs a machine, then it ain't a human pursuit. Much like if cycling needs doping, then neither is that.

Motor racing uses timing and always has, electronically for years, to thousandths of a second, which humans couldn't do. However, controversies are resolved only later, not only by people that know what they're talking about, but with discussion with the drivers and team members involved... for the human aspect.

The inevitable corollary of this in football, is the eventual assessment of all or almost all, decisions. Once the culture is embedded, where does it stop? Someone said today on TalkShit..., er Sport, that we will end up like American football, with cheerleaders and commercials in the waiting periods – and we will.

As to keepers coming off their line (which I know is being discussed currently) we have everything in place already to stop that. The whole world can see it, yet the guy stood there to monitor it can't? This happens in life generally now: a push and rush for new rules without even operating and implementing those that already exist.

If secondary checking absolutely must be used, then why not ex-footballers or similar looking once at a replay from a useful angle, at normal speed? That's human, and would quickly pick up any glaring error (not that I personally advocate even this).

It's a hard thing to define and describe, to resolve into a specification. After all, anyone opposing VAR could simply be levelled with the accusation "Are you condoning mistakes".

No, but we don't want football turned into a digitized hell.

John Raftery
34 Posted 06/08/2020 at 22:54:08
One of the special joys of football was being in a stadium and seeing a goal being scored. It was unlike anything else in sport. You saw the ball hit the net, took a nanosecond to check the linesman had kept his flag down and then went wild, jumping up and down, waving arms and fists in mad celebration along with thousands of others.

All that has been taken away from us at the top level of the game which has been reduced to a concoction for TV viewers, media and pundits.

VAR is an abomination. People are kidding themselves if they think it can ever be made acceptable to match-going fans.

Bill Gall
35 Posted 06/08/2020 at 23:03:22
The complete unfairness of the VAR is it is only used in the Premier League and major European leagues and cup competitions. I was always of the belief that the rules of the game and officiating were for everyone who played the sport, and not certain leagues and competitions.

The playoffs for who goes into the Premier League was a perfect example, where there were a couple of questionable decisions that may have changed the game and a possible promotion, but there was no VAR. And as has been mentioned, a couple of questionable decisions in the Premier League by VAR may have changed the relegation table.

Why shouldn't more leagues be given the help of VAR instead of those who are paid for broadcast rights by media giants? Look at the one Wolves got away with tonight – I believe the opposition's player had his elbow offside.

Will Mabon
36 Posted 06/08/2020 at 23:19:09
John, agreed. What has happened with goals is beyond sad. Torn the guts out of it.
Alex Carew
37 Posted 06/08/2020 at 23:34:02
I was so positive and hopeful of VAR being the answer and bringing some sort of fair play to the game, rather than the bias for the so-called bigger teams. How wrong I was?

Although VAR has the potential, it still seems to be the decision of the ref and whether he feels he needs to use VAR. What I found last season was that it was still used to the benefit of those teams that had experienced bias in the past.

They can bring out all their facts and figures about fairness but what they forget to query is when and why VAR was requested. Any goal against the RS was queried and any goal for Man City was queried. What you didn't find was that any goal for the RS or against Man City was queried.

Also take for example the hand ball at Goodison, which was so obvious with all commentators saying it should have been a penalty, and yet the ref didn't ask for it to be looked at. Add to that, the late goal against Man Utd which was considered good by most and yet they had to go and ask VAR where they scrutinise every possibility.

For offside I would like to see and marginal decision given to the attacker, if the decision is not 100% obvious then don't give it (however, this is still open to interpretation).

Anyway, time will tell but with VAR, I believe you use it for every decision from TV cameras with an indication to the ref (that means off the ball incidents, bad tackles, offsides, hand balls etc...) or completely scrap it and put it behind us. TV cameras can usually make a decision pretty quick so it shouldn't need excessive delays, some of which have been farcical this year.

Christine Foster
38 Posted 07/08/2020 at 05:10:04
I can't see the idiots in charge dropping VAR (although I wish they would) but I do believe there is a solution in the offside rule, with or without VAR. It's simple, so simple that it's clear cut.

A player is only offside if their body (torso, not arms or legs) is ahead of the defender with clear distance between them. In other words, if you can see daylight, then he is offside. If you can't, they are level, they are not offside.

It also prevents another obvious issue that few comment on, at what point is a ball is deemed to have left the foot of the passing player? A split-second difference in timing of that ball determines the position of the player receiving. Hence the idiotic calls.

Clear daylight = offside.
No daylight, no offside.

Think about it... got to be better than what we have.

Kevin Prytherch
39 Posted 07/08/2020 at 08:03:31
VAR had the potential to wean out cheating and to ensure that anything obvious missed or called incorrectly was double checked. It could have been used to punish divers, shirt pulling and those who exaggerated minimal contact to try and get others sent off. We now had the power to punish those like Niasse in real time and ensure that the game started to revert to something like how it should be played.

Unfortunately, it has been used more for a ridiculous interpretation of the rules with the whole system panicking from one disaster to the next – rather like Covid!!

The issue is, most of the cheating happens from players at the top teams who influence the refs, and the immediate accountability is zero as the replays aren't played for the audience.

A solution – Do what Rugby League and cricket do and play the replays and the conversations for everyone to hear. If a decision is too tight – the decision is taken back to the on-field decision. The start of the conversation clarifies the refs original decision (ie – not offside) then if there is some doubt as to whether a toe is offside – you revert back to the original decision.

Another farce was in the FA Cup Final. The ref obviously made a mistake with the second yellow, but VAR wasn't allowed to look at it because it wasn't a red.

Dennis Stevens
40 Posted 10/08/2020 at 12:22:34
I've always felt that, if the situation isn't so clear that the VAR officials come quickly come to a clear decision, say within 30 seconds, then it should revert to whatever decision the match official has made originally.

Poor refereeing decisions are bad enough; to have to wait 5 minutes and then still get poor decisions made is ludicrous.

Rob Dolby
41 Posted 10/08/2020 at 14:23:57
How about the new tee-shirt rule. Some bright spark must have got a Blue Peter badge for that one. The game has gone mad.

We wonder why players don't show passion. Scoring goals has now become a sterile clinical process that can take minutes to decide.

99% of football fans watch the game for the goals and excitement. The other 1% are the bureaucrats that make the rules.

I would have offside where there is clear daylight between defender and attacker. Deciding things with the dodgy lines going across the pitch is pathetic.

Someone mentioned earlier in the thread that VAR has stopped diving. I strongly disagree; I wouldn't be surprised if more penalties were given last season.

Peter Mills
42 Posted 16/08/2020 at 10:41:55
Arrived at this post a few days late.

Sorry, you’re all just pissin’ in the wind!

Rob Hooton
43 Posted 30/08/2020 at 13:44:49
VAR has corrupted the game even more than before – and the tv companies are in charge of the sport now. They control what is seen and how it is seen, the ‘favourite' teams win marginal calls and the others get ignored.
Load of bollocks.
Brian Wilkinson
44 Posted 31/08/2020 at 02:22:52
Kevin @39, Super League Rugby as you say have it spot on, you hear what the ref is checking for, whatever the ref says is final, if the video ref cannot make a clear over rule, and as you say, it is played back on the big screen.

In football, they can even go back to see if a foul was committed in the lead up to the goal, that could be a good 6 passes before the goal, or try to justify a toe being offside.

Danny O’Neill
45 Posted 01/09/2020 at 18:27:40
I don't understand how football managed to cock this up. Something was needed as the continuous incompetence of the officials needed addressing. There lies the problem, we haven't addressed the incompetency, just transferred the liability to Stockley Park.

Technology works in other sports (Tennis, Rugby spring to mind), so there is no reason it can't in football.

I particularly like the way they use it in Rugby. Total transparency with the on-field official communicating with the video officials. The players, spectators and television audience can see the same screen, watch the same replays and hear the debate they are having to come to a decision and the logic in their thought process.

Do they get it right 100%? I don't know enough about Rugby, but I doubt it. What does appear obvious is that because of the transparency and at least seeing, hearing and understanding how they have come to their decision, there is much more acceptance.

Football needs to be more transparent in its use of technology to make fair decisions. However, the first step is to introduce competent officials, both on the pitch and on the monitors.

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