The VAR Guide/FAQ/Discussion Mega Thread

Alemas_2012
14545 posts Has That Special Something
edited June 6
BFZRV34.png
With the introduction of VAR to the Premier League next season, millions of football fans will experience the joys and idiosyncrasies of the technology. After getting a taster in the World Cup and Champions League, they'll now be hoping that the English referees, commonly seen as among the worst, will now finally be able to get their decisions right.
But will be that truly be the case?
Will all wrong decisions be a thing of the past?
As a regular viewer of Serie A, which has had the technology for two seasons, and semi-interested follower of other leagues with VAR, I can give you a definitive answer:
No, most definitely not.
It won't magically correct every single wrong decision the referee makes.
It won't magically correct every single major wrong decision the referee makes.
And it won't magically correct every single wrong decision the referee makes leading to goals either.
So what will it definitely correct?
When will it actually be used?
This thread aims to clear up those questions to Premier League fans, but also to anyone who's seeing VAR introduced to their favourite league as well. It can also serve as a discussion thread for any controversial VAR decision/non-decision.
I'll start off with a list of FAQs, which will cover the broader aspects of VAR, then with a list of NSFAQs (not so frequently asked questions), which will cover the implementation aspects of VAR, plus specific cases. Both of these are not exhaustive.
If you have a question yourself, I will add it to the "community questions" section at the bottom along with my answer.
Now, let me be clear, I'm not a referee or a VAR man myself, I'm only doing this because I'm seeing a lot of confusion as to when VAR actually gets to be used (I'm a bit of a lurker), and I thought I'd share my experience of the technology to answer your questions and clear things up.
Also, this OP will probably be in constant "WIP" mode to add more questions in the lists and to make it look a bit better. Feedback is welcome. :smile:
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
FAQ

What does the rulebook actually say?
The Laws of the Game state that VAR "may assist the referee only in the event of a
‘clear and obvious error’ or ‘serious missed incident’ in relation to:
a. Goal/no goal
b. Penalty/no penalty
c. Direct red card (not second yellow card/caution)
d. Mistaken identity (when the referee cautions or sends off the
wrong player of the offending team)
"

What does "clear and obvious error" actually mean?
According to the IFAB VAR Handbook, it does not mean "was the decision correct?", but "was the decision clearly wrong?".

Who decides when VAR will be used?
It's a moot point, given that VAR continually checks every decision relating to the above four points. A better question would be...

Who decides when the ref has to go look at the pitch-side screen?
The ref, always the ref. All that VAR can do is "recommend" a review, and the ref decides whether they should go ahead with it or not.

I've heard about "check" and "review". What's the difference?
"Check" is VAR-only, it's when they're quickly looking at something relating to the four above points. It's also when the ref puts his finger on his earpiece. If the ball is out of play or the teams are waiting the restart after a goal, the ref may delay the restart to allow for the check to complete.
"Review" is when the VAR told the ref of a probable "clear and obvious error" or "serious missed incident" they discovered during the check and he does the TV screen hand gesture. The hand gesture indicates the "start" of the review, i.e. the VAR is talking to the ref and describing the TV replays they're watching (VAR-only review), or the ref is going to the pitchside screen to have a look himself (on-field review). Once the review is complete and he has made his final decision, the ref does the TV hand gesture again and indicates his decision.

Who has the final decision?
Again, it's the ref. VAR is used just to assist him, not to replace him.

How's the practical implementation of the VAR laws?
It has to be said that the refs don't always follow the absolute letter of the law when it comes to VAR. In theory they'd have to do the TV hand gesture twice every time a decision goes to review (one at the start and one at the end), in reality they do it only when they go to the pitch-side screen. For decisions like offside/not offside goals, they typically go straight from finger on earpiece to decision, without doing the TV gesture.
The spirit of the "clear and obvious error" rule should be "was the decision clearly wrong?", but as you shall see, it's not always considered...
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
NSFAQ

A goal came from a free-kick/corner/throw-in that shouldn't have been given, surely VAR fixes that?
Er, nope. Once the ref or linesman gives it, it's given, exception of course for penalties.

There was an offside/foul from the attacking team preceding a penalty, what about that?
In that case VAR can revert the decision.

What if there's a foul from Team A against Team B in the penalty area, Team B doesn't get the penalty, and Team A go up the other end and score?
This is probably the worst-case scenario for VAR. Team A will have the goal disallowed and Team B the penalty given. It happened both in Serie A and the Dutch league.

What if, at a corner, the ball was outside the quarter circle at the corner flag (it's supposed to be at least on the line), and the team scores from it?
Never seen an instance of a goal being disallowed because of that, so I guess it doesn't fall under VAR's jurisdiction.

Does VAR fix every wrong offside call?
Most of them, but not all. Reason being, if the linesman puts up his flag before the attacker has a chance of scoring, even if he wasn't offside, the phase of play is over. What usually happens though is that the attacker is allowed to shoot before the linesman raises his flag, if it's a clear opportunity. If he doesn't score there's no VAR, if he does, VAR. Also, the ball-coming-off-a-defender-but-attacker-was-offside situation is still a massive grey area which VAR still can't fully fix. Furthermore, with very close calls, sometimes they give offside, sometimes they don't, even with the help of lines.

Can penalties be awarded after the half-time/full time whistle?
Oh yes. Happened once in the Bundesliga where the ref had to call the players back from the tunnel at half-time. The IFAB VAR Handbook mentions that a penalty can be awarded after the full time whistle as well.

Does VAR fix penalty area encroachment during penalties?
Nope. Absolutely not. Probably the most ignored rule in football still gets ignored.

Does VAR fix penalty area encroachment during goal kicks?
Weirdly enough, yes. In a Serie A match a goal got disallowed as the attacker just about trod on the line, and part of his body was just inside the penalty area, meaning he had encroached, and the ensuing goal was annulled. Next season the rules for that will change anyway, but it's something to keep in mind.

Does VAR fix irregular kick-offs (players in opposing half) leading to goals?
I don't have a definite answer to that. While penalty area encroachment for penalties isn't punished, penalty area encroachment for goal kicks is, and as a result I don't know what they would decide on encroaching into the opponent's half at kick-off.

Can yellow cards be "upgraded" to red ones?
It is possible.

Can red cards be "downgraded" to yellow ones?
Also possible.

What if there's a handball in the penalty area, but none of the players notice it and there are no calls for a penalty?
It doesn't matter whether there were protests or not, the VAR will check and a penalty can be given.

There's a foul in the penalty area, no penalty is initially given, but the ball is still in play. When does VAR come in?
In theory, as soon as the ball goes out of play, or the ball is in a "neutral" area. In practice, just when the ball goes out of play. It rarely happens that the ref stops the play himself.

What if the ball stays in play for a long time after a foul in the penalty area? Is there some "timer" that expires?
In theory, no. In practice, I do get the feeling that if the ball stays in play for a while, VAR eventually "forgets".

Does VAR fix handball decisions in the penalty area?
Not at all of them. Refs can still get them very wrong. However, from next season there will also be new rules regarding handball, so things could get better, or much worse. Depends on the ref, really.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Community Questions

What will the Premier League use to indicate that VAR is being used to review a decision? (@Alastair)
Finger on earpiece/TV screen hand gesture/"VAR review" on big screen if the stadium has one. Ideally. The Bundesliga and Serie A have been using the stadium big screen to signal VAR reviews and decisions since the start.
UPDATE: Confirmed, they'll use the stadium big screen to relay information about VAR decisions, including replays for overturned decisions.
Post edited by Alemas_2012 on

Comments

  • Alastair
    9936 posts Moderator
    A very useful guide. Thanks for putting this together @Alemas_2012.

    One question from me, does anyone know which signal they are using for VAR in the PL? The point to the ear signal is far from clear. In my opinion the 'drawing the TV' one they do in rugby would be much better.
  • Alemas_2012
    14545 posts Has That Special Something
    Alastair wrote: »
    A very useful guide. Thanks for putting this together Alemas_2012.

    One question from me, does anyone know which signal they are using for VAR in the PL? The point to the ear signal is far from clear. In my opinion the 'drawing the TV' one they do in rugby would be much better.

    If you read the thread, the question answers by itself. :sweat_smile:
    "point to ear" is one thing, "drawing the TV" is another. They should do both.
    Read under "I've heard about "check" and "review". What's the difference?".
    That's IFAB-mandated protocol, so I'd assume the Premier League refs will use that.
  • Alastair
    9936 posts Moderator
    Alastair wrote: »
    A very useful guide. Thanks for putting this together Alemas_2012.

    One question from me, does anyone know which signal they are using for VAR in the PL? The point to the ear signal is far from clear. In my opinion the 'drawing the TV' one they do in rugby would be much better.

    If you read the thread, the question answers by itself. :sweat_smile:
    "point to ear" is one thing, "drawing the TV" is another. They should do both.
    Read under "I've heard about "check" and "review". What's the difference?".
    That's IFAB-mandated protocol, so I'd assume the Premier League refs will use that.

    Yeah I saw that but it's not what has happened in the FA Cup the last two seasons. They only do the 'point to ear' sign for both.

    Interesting to know the FA are ignoring the IFAB protocol. Doesn't surprise me. :joy:
  • Alemas_2012
    14545 posts Has That Special Something
    edited May 5
    Alastair wrote: »
    Alastair wrote: »
    A very useful guide. Thanks for putting this together Alemas_2012.

    One question from me, does anyone know which signal they are using for VAR in the PL? The point to the ear signal is far from clear. In my opinion the 'drawing the TV' one they do in rugby would be much better.

    If you read the thread, the question answers by itself. :sweat_smile:
    "point to ear" is one thing, "drawing the TV" is another. They should do both.
    Read under "I've heard about "check" and "review". What's the difference?".
    That's IFAB-mandated protocol, so I'd assume the Premier League refs will use that.

    Yeah I saw that but it's not what has happened in the FA Cup the last two seasons. They only do the 'point to ear' sign for both.

    Interesting to know the FA are ignoring the IFAB protocol. Doesn't surprise me. :joy:

    They'll eventually get the hang of it.
    Here at least the ref did use the TV screen gesture...

    ...and here as well (skip to 3:24)...
  • Alastair
    9936 posts Moderator
    edited May 5
    Ah that's good to see they're doing both. I hadn't noticed that.

    Personally I think they need a better signal than the point to ear one. It's fine for fans watching on TV but not for those in the stadium.
  • Alemas_2012
    14545 posts Has That Special Something
    edited May 5
    Alastair wrote: »
    Ah that's good to see they're doing both. I hadn't noticed that.

    Personally I think they need a better signal than the point to ear one. It's fine for fans watching on TV but not for those in the stadium.

    They do get a better signal.
    2.42186474.jpg
    49AF6C8A00000578-5450883-image-a-1_1519922993835.jpg
    stream_img.jpg
    Not sure when exactly that is displayed though, whether it's at the "check" or "review" stage (getting the two mixed up is VERY easy).
    FYI, that is not mandated by the IFAB, it's just an optional extra to help the fans.
  • Alastair
    9936 posts Moderator
    edited May 5
    Alastair wrote: »
    Ah that's good to see they're doing both. I hadn't noticed that.

    Personally I think they need a better signal than the point to ear one. It's fine for fans watching on TV but not for those in the stadium.

    They do get a better signal.
    2.42186474.jpg
    49AF6C8A00000578-5450883-image-a-1_1519922993835.jpg
    stream_img.jpg
    Not sure when exactly that is displayed though, whether it's at the "check" or "review" stage (getting the two mixed up is VERY easy).

    That's a new thing they trialled in the FA Cup QF/SF. Hopefully it carries on.
  • Alemas_2012
    14545 posts Has That Special Something
    Alastair wrote: »
    Alastair wrote: »
    Ah that's good to see they're doing both. I hadn't noticed that.

    Personally I think they need a better signal than the point to ear one. It's fine for fans watching on TV but not for those in the stadium.

    They do get a better signal.
    2.42186474.jpg
    49AF6C8A00000578-5450883-image-a-1_1519922993835.jpg
    stream_img.jpg
    Not sure when exactly that is displayed though, whether it's at the "check" or "review" stage (getting the two mixed up is VERY easy).

    That's a new thing they trialled in the FA Cup QF/SF. Hopefully it carries on.

    It should, the Bundesliga has been using such a system since the start.
    In theory, the Serie A as well, too bad very few stadiums have a big screen...
  • Alemas_2012
    14545 posts Has That Special Something
    ...well this attracted a lot of interest. :sweat_smile:
  • Pxul_
    7196 posts Big Money Move
    ...well this attracted a lot of interest. :sweat_smile:

    You put a lot of detail into the first post so there really isn’t a need to comment on it.

    Good job on the post :)
  • Alemas_2012
    14545 posts Has That Special Something
    Pxul_ wrote: »
    ...well this attracted a lot of interest. :sweat_smile:

    You put a lot of detail into the first post so there really isn’t a need to comment on it.

    Good job on the post :)

    Fair enough, thanks. :smile:
    I just expected more questions, that's all. :sweat_smile:
  • Pxul_
    7196 posts Big Money Move
    Pxul_ wrote: »
    ...well this attracted a lot of interest. :sweat_smile:

    You put a lot of detail into the first post so there really isn’t a need to comment on it.

    Good job on the post :)

    Fair enough, thanks. :smile:
    I just expected more questions, that's all. :sweat_smile:

    You covered pretty much everything imo, I gave it a read when you first made it and didn’t have any questions😂
  • Alastair
    9936 posts Moderator
  • Alemas_2012
    14545 posts Has That Special Something
    Alastair wrote: »

    Wouldn't have made sense not doing that, as I said, Bundesliga and Serie A have been doing it since the start.
  • Alastair
    9936 posts Moderator
    Alastair wrote: »

    Wouldn't have made sense not doing that, as I said, Bundesliga and Serie A have been doing it since the start.

    You’d be amazed with our FA. They refused to do it in the FA Cup when asked last season.
  • LFC Simon 98
    15972 posts World Class
    Quality thread this, answers a lot of lingering questions
  • Alastair
    9936 posts Moderator
    Does anyone know the margin for error of VAR? Every other sport with hawk eye/ball tracking etc has a small margin of error in which the original decision on the field is used.

    Lingard was offside by 0.012 inches (0.3mm) tonight which is surely less than the margin for error. For example tennis has a margin of error of 3.6mm.
  • Fadazzo
    172 posts Has Potential To Be Special
    Biggest problem so far is that any interpretation from the referee is gone. A foul is a foul and a handball is a handball.

    It completely removes the gray area.
  • ViVaWhom
    7243 posts Big Money Move
    good
  • Alemas_2012
    14545 posts Has That Special Something
    Alastair wrote: »
    Does anyone know the margin for error of VAR? Every other sport with hawk eye/ball tracking etc has a small margin of error in which the original decision on the field is used.

    Lingard was offside by 0.012 inches (0.3mm) tonight which is surely less than the margin for error. For example tennis has a margin of error of 3.6mm.

    I thought there was such a thing as being "level"... which means not offside.
    To any linesman with human eyes, 0.3mm is pretty much level.
    There have been other controversial offside decisions in the league as well, so it is something that's still under much debate.
    Fadazzo wrote: »
    Biggest problem so far is that any interpretation from the referee is gone. A foul is a foul and a handball is a handball.

    It completely removes the gray area.

    Not at all, the ref can still interpret the foul or handball how he wants.
    Grey areas still exist, very much so.
  • Alemas_2012
    14545 posts Has That Special Something
    I'm just going to put this out there that I won't be updating the NSFAQ with questions regarding VAR use from the Women's World Cup given the standard of refereeing there is... slightly different than in the major men's leagues, so I'm not 100% certain they'd share the same decisions. :sweat_smile:
  • Alemas_2012
    14545 posts Has That Special Something
    Ok, important news for Premier League fans (also kind of related to what I said above).

    After much controversy during the Women's World Cup regarding the use of VAR for when the goalkeeper moves off their line on penalties... the Premier League has decided NOT to use the technology for that situation.
    Only the on-field officials will decide.
  • Tornado31619
    15268 posts World Class
    “A penalty is already massively weighted in favour of the attacker.”

    Of course it is, it’s the ref penalising the defending side :lol: just follow the rules and be done with it. I’m sick of people saying that VAR is ruining football - and this is coming from somebody whose country was essentially knocked out of last year’s WC by it - it exists for a reason: to ensure that the match is being played fairly.

    People will always complain.
Sign In or Register to comment.