August 03, (THEWILL) – Widespread dissatisfaction with the application of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to decisions in the English Premier League is resulting in some changes that will be effected in the incoming season to improve refereeing using the technology.
A poll organised by the Football Supporters’ Association at the end of last season produced results that indicated clearly that the majority of fans were not happy with how VAR was working in the game and their dissatisfaction with the system was worsening overtime.
One of the changes planned, according to Mike Riley, the Premier League referee chief, is that players will be given the benefit of the doubt in calling for offsides in the EPL as goals will no longer be ruled out for offside due to incidentals such as toenails and noses.
It was part of the subtle changes being introduced by the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) in their use of VAR in the upcoming campaign, especially after coming under heavy criticism over the last two seasons.
As a result, fans of the EPL games will notice that those dreaded lines used to work out marginal offside decisions will be made thicker in order to give the advantage back to the attacking side, rather than disrupt the flow of the attack.
Riley also revealed that the move away from what was taken as “forensic scrutiny” of the beautiful game will eradicate goals being ruled out when a player’s toe or nose was in an offside position and see around 20 goals more scored throughout the season as a whole.
He considered it a plus as he said: “Fundamentally, we want the approach to be one that allows players to go out and express themselves and let the game flow. It means the VAR teams will not intervene for trivial offences and the threshold for referee and VAR intervention will be slightly higher than it was last season.
“We’ve introduced the benefit of the doubt for the attacking player so where we have a really close offside situation, we will follow the same process as last year but now apply thicker broadcast lines.
“Effectively what we have done is given back 20 goals to the game that were deemed offside last season by using quite forensic scrutiny. So it’s the toenails, the noses of players that were offside – they won’t be offside now.”
Among a raft of changes to expect will be in other decisions where goals did not stand due to players’ armpits being offside, but FIFA has now stated the armpit is the part of the body where offsides will be measured from going forward.
Expectedly, the changes will also involve a tweak in the approach toward penalties. This was considered an essential move especially after a record high of 125 penalties were awarded during the last EPL campaign alone.
For the 2021/2022 season, the referee will be expected to not only establish whether there is clear contact but find out whether it had enough of a consequence in order to award a penalty and whether the player used the contact to try to win a foul or a penalty in the process.
Riley pressed on this saying: “It’s not sufficient to just say there was contact. Contact on its own is only one element the referee should look for. If you have clear contact, that has a consequence, it’s a foul but if you have any doubts, in these elements they are unlikely to be penalised.
“You also want it to be a proper foul and not the slightest contact that someone has used to go over to get a penalty.”
In addition to these, change was also coming to foul rules that obtain in handball cases. Finally, the changes effected to the rules will now see goals that had an accidental handball by a team-mate in the build-up stand instead of the controversial disallowed cases that ruined some matches.
Furthermore, in the first two years of VAR, viewers not in the stadium were able to see the working out process and it led to screenshots of borderline decisions being shared and creating more negativity for the decision-review system.
The consequence of that now is that all decisions will be made off-screen in future.