• What’s the point of VAR if it doesn’t intervene?

    A general view of the VAR system

    After a weekend with VAR causing controversy by not intervening on at least three separate occasions in the Premier League, it’s clear the system has a long way to go, writes DEAN WORKMAN.

    Pep Guardiola took a sly dig at VAR after his side’s 3-1 win at Bournemouth appearing to be exasperated with the use of the technology. When asked if his side deserved a spot kick, he replied sardonically: ‘No, no, no. Penalty? No.

    ‘It was clear hands last game, clear hands. A penalty today? No, please.’

    This was when David Silva was floored in the box after Jefferson Lerma clearly stepped on his foot. The referee did not award the penalty and VAR decided not to intervene.

    Earlier on the weekend Manchester United were also denied what looked like clear penalties on Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford when the duo were pulled down inside the Crystal Palace box.

    ‘I think we were unlucky with Martial because it was a clear and obvious penalty, nailed on, and I think when the referee sees the game he will know he’s not had his best,’ Solskjaer said post-match.

    When asked if he was surprised VAR did not intervene, Solskjaer continued: ‘I am, because it’s a nailed-on penalty. He will not slip if he does not have a 100-kilo defender on his shoulders.’

    Then to complete the hat-trick for VAR: in the final game of the weekend Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane was also denied what looked like a clear penalty with, again, no intervention by the new system.

    On all three occasions VAR decided not to intervene because they did not pick up a ‘clear and obvious’ error.

    With the high bar for interference by VAR in the Premier League it begs the question if referees will now take the safe route of not awarding a penalty that they may well have if the new system was not in place.

    The fact that in England, unlike the rest of the top European leagues, the on-field referee can’t have a second look at potential incidents may speed up the whole process. This is what everyone wants, but it does mean that the referees still need to be brave with their decisions and not rely on the tech to fix only a ‘clear and obvious error’.

    One thing is certain: VAR will have an impact on the league. While they iron out all the deficiencies expect that some of the impact will be negative, but as we have seen over the weekend some of that criticism will come from moments when VAR doesn’t intervene.


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