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IFAB: 'VAR should only reverse clear and obvious offsides'

IFAB: 'VAR should only reverse clear and obvious offsides'
© Reuters
The weekend's Premier League fixtures featured a number of marginal offside decisions which were checked by VAR.

VAR technology should only be used to reverse “clear and obvious” mistakes including offside decisions, according to the general secretary of the law-making International Football Association Board.

The weekend’s Premier League fixtures featured a number of marginal offside calls which were checked by VAR, with goals ruled out for Wolves, Crystal Palace, Norwich, Brighton and Sheffield United.

Lukas Brud did not address the decisions taken in the Premier League specifically but said officials on the pitch and monitoring cameras should not become “too forensic” over offsides or any other decisions.

He said the IFAB will reissue guidance on best practice regarding VAR to competitions which use it, probably after its annual general meeting at the end of February next year, which will cover all areas that VARs look at and include information on offsides. However, this would be one of IFAB’s standard circulars and not in response to the controversy and debate over the matter in England this weekend.

“Clear and obvious still remains – it’s an important principle. There should not be a lot of time spent to find something marginal,” Brud told the PA news agency.

“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.

  • A player is in an offside position if any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half (excluding the halfway line) and
  • any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent

“If something is not clear on the first sight, then it’s not obvious and it shouldn’t be considered. Looking at one camera angle is one thing but looking at 15, trying to find something that was potentially not even there, this was not the idea of the VAR principle. It should be clear and obvious.

“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,” he added.

“In theory one millimetre 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.

“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. With VAR we see some things that are going in a direction that we may need to readjust.”

Asked about timescales for sending out this advice, Brud said: “I don’t know. Maybe only after the AGM. We do that on a regular basis, we call them circulars and this will just be another one. This will not be a case of ‘oh, we have to intervene’, just something we do on a regular basis.”

It is understood that the Premier League has no plans to alter how its VARs check offside decisions.

It is happy that the technology is being applied correctly and consistently in line with the laws of the game, which do not make allowances for offside decisions being “clear and obvious”.

Wolves captain Conor Coady spoke out after his side were denied an equaliser just before half-time at runaway leaders Liverpool on Sunday.

Neto’s goal was ruled out because Spanish wing-back Jonny was ruled to be offside in the build-up.

“It’s horrible for me, it’s tough to take,” Coady told BBC Sport.

“A lot of people are going to tell me that they have come to the right decision and they might have. But what is it, an armpit that’s offside, or a toe, or something like that?”

Chris Wilder lamented another goal disallowed via VAR for his side
Chris Wilder lamented another goal disallowed via VAR for his side (Martin Rickett/PA)

Sheffield United were denied a goal against Manchester City – the fifth time this season VAR has ruled out a goal they have scored.

Blades manager Chris Wilder said: “Yet again we had another goal disallowed by VAR. That’s about eight or nine over the weekend, this is not a situation helping the game.”

His opposite number Pep Guardiola said VAR was “a big mess” and added: “Hopefully next season it can do better.”

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