VAR offside guidelines to be reviewed: Details here
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) made its much-awaited debut in the English Premier League (EPL) last weekend during the opening week of the 2019-20 season. However, there has already been a controversy engulfing it, as the system took a harsh call regarding an offside. As a result, organizers are looking to work on the guidelines regarding the offside rule. Here is more.
It all happened during Manchester City's tie against West Ham United on Saturday. Raheem Sterling scored a goal, while the referee went on to check with the VAR for a possible offside. Replays showed that Sterling's shoulder was marginally ahead of the final defender, which could not be counted as a proper offside. However, the VAR went by its guidelines and overturned the goal.
Following the above incident, there was widespread disapproval of the technology, which has prompted the lawmakers to hold talks and alter the 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.
This is not the first instance that the guidelines related to the offside for VAR have been questioned. It was during the FIFA Women's World Cup semis when England were denied a goal for the same. Also, during UEFA Nations League semis, England's Jesse Lingard saw his goal being ruled out for the same reason.
The current VAR guidelines state that a decision can only be overturned if there is a clear and obvious error. However, in case of tight scenarios like offside or if the foul was committed inside or outside the box, the technology sticks to the law. While VAR is not used for offside in Major League Soccer, in EPL, it is used across the spectrum.
Speaking on the issue, referees' chief Mike Riley said that while it is a philosophical debate, VAR is still evolving and will become even better in the coming years. He also said that simplifying the process and tweaking the law could make it more foolproof. "You are balancing that with the technology and what can it do," said Riley to The Times.
"We have already gone from a 2D line on the pitch, which is the lines coming down which is more accurate, and I've no doubt the software companies are looking at something which is even more accurate," Riley further recorded.