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VAR starts 2020 as it ended 2019 with offside decision in Burnley vs Aston Villa


VAR made its first Premier League appearance of 2020 just 10 minutes into the New Year’s Day fixtures – and continued where it left off in 2019.

Five goals were ruled out at the weekend for marginal offsides – leading to widespread criticism over the Premier League’s interpretation of the system.

That criticism ramped up further as an early Jack Grealish header at Turf Moor was disallowed during Aston Villa’s clash with Burnley .

The Villans’ skipper appeared to have headed Dean Smith’s men in front when an awful Charlie Taylor clearance was returned into the penalty area by Ezri Konsa, with the onrushing Grealish turning past Nick Pope.

On first viewing there appeared to be little wrong with the effort. But as the goal was checked – as all goals are – a slight offside was discovered in the build-up.

Villa striker Wesley had won a penalty box header, prior to Taylor’s mistake, and replays showed his heel to be marginally offside.

VAR in action, ruling out Grealish’s goal for Wesley’s offside heel

As such, much to the displeasure of the Villa players and the surprise of their Burnley counterparts – none of whom had even the slightest notion that the Brazilian was offside – the goal was ruled out.

Andy Reid, summarising for BBC Radio 5 Live, declared: “I’m trying not to go on about it, because someone’s always talking about VAR, but it’s just ridiculous.

“How could that goal be disallowed? Something needs to be done about it because I’m sick of talking about it and listening to it.”

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Grealish speaks to referee Michael Oliver after his goal is disallowed

Football’s law-makers, the International Football Association Board, stated that the VAR system should not be “too forensic” where offside is concerned.

Instead, the IFAB say it should only be used to reverse “clear and obvious” errors.

Lukas Brud, general secretary of the IFAB, said: “With VAR we see some things that are going in a direction that we may need to re-adjust.”

He added that the body would re-issue guidance on VAR’s use after its annual general meeting in February.

“If you spend multiple minutes trying to identify whether it is offside or not, then it’s not clear and obvious and the original decision should stand,” he said.

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He added: “What we really need to stress is that ‘clear and obvious’ applies to every single situation that is being reviewed by the VAR or the referee.

“In theory, 1mm offside is offside, but if a decision is taken that a player is not offside and the VAR is trying to identify through looking at five, six, seven, 10, 12 cameras whether or not it was offside, then the original decision should stand.

“This is the problem. People are trying to be too forensic. We are not looking to make a better decision, we are trying to get rid of the clear and obvious mistakes.

“If video evidence shows that a player was in an offside position, he was offside full stop. If it’s not obvious, then the decision cannot be changed, you stay with the original decision.

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“We will be communicating to all competitions that are using VAR some updates in the coming weeks, because we are observing some developments that are not particularly the way they should be.”





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