VAR in focus following 2-2 draw between City and Spurs
The much-debated Video Assistant Referee (VAR), which has had a troubled entry to the English Premier League (EPL) so far, continued itself in a similar controversial fashion. To make things interesting, it once again involved defending champions Manchester City, who were held to a 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. Here are further details on what transpired this time involving the technology.
The opening week saw City beat West Ham United 5-0. However, they came up with a goal short after VAR ruled out a goal following a close off-side call. This week, they were denied once again as Gabriel Jesus saw his celebrations cut short at the death. Certainly, VAR so far has not gone in City's favor.
Analyzing the first VAR call, Erik Lamela tangled with Rodri as the referee decide to check upstairs. Replays showed that Lamela had clumsily pulled Rodri by the neck, but could have gone either way. Since it wasn't evident if the pull was intentional or accidental, the referee did not have enough conclusive evidence to award the penalty. Lucky Lamela!
Following a corner, Jesus latched onto a knockdown by Aymeric Laporte as he curled the ball home beautifully and celebrated the winning goal. However, the referee went upstairs again, only to find that the ball had come off Laporte's arm. Thus, once again, the VAR went by the rulebook and ruled out the goal, with the confusion surrounding that if the handball was intentional.
City manager Pep Guardiola expressed his frustrations over the use of VAR and was unhappy with its inconsistent use. He was furious over the fact that they were denied a penalty after Lamela was brought down by Rodri. "It was incredible it wasn't a penalty in the first half, but VAR said it wasn't and then at the end they did," said Guardiola.
"Better than that I don't know if we are able to reach it. We would like to win because the guys deserve it, but football sometimes is like this," added Guardiola.
A goal scored or created with the use of the hand or arm will be disallowed. This is effective even if it's an accidental handball, therefore a player's intent will not be in consideration. Meanwhile, the position of a player's hand/arm will be on focus. If a player makes his body "unnaturally bigger" as a ball hits him, a foul will be given.
Going by the history of VAR, the concept came back in 2010 and was used for the first time during the 2012-13 Dutch league. Since then, it has come a long way, following continuous evolution and has now been accepted globally, including FIFA and UEFA. However, it is still evolving, while the close calls seem to be an issue for now.
Following the above incidents, it was reported last week that this has prompted the lawmakers to hold talks and alter the VAR guidelines. The plan is to make sure that the VAR only gives a decision based on a clean offside, and not marginal. While the protocol would be studied by the IFAB and debated by FIFA, any decision would not come before March.