Keith Hackett latest Daily Telegraph article published 28.10.19
I have been officiating for more than 50 years and I have no hesitation in saying that the introduction of the VAR system into the Premier League at the moment is close to a disaster.
We have just had another weekend where the main talking point is VAR and not the quality of play served up in the Premier League.
I fail to understand why the management of the Professional Games Match Officials Limited are not allowing referees to use the pitch-side monitor. This lack of leadership is clearly leading to confusion
In Norwich’s 3-1 home defeat by Manchester United yesterday we saw referee Stuart Attwell – ideally positioned – correctly turn down appeals for a Manchester United penalty kick. However, we then saw the intervention of the VAR, who advised the referee to award a penalty kick. I was amazed that the VAR, David Coote, with plenty of time to review the incident where Daniel James was judged to have been fouled by Ben Godfrey, got the decision so wrong.
Attwell should have been allowed to watch the incident using the pitch-side monitor. He would almost certainly have stuck with his original decision not to award a penalty kick to United, that Rashford missed anyway.
At Anfield, Harry Kane’s goal was correctly allowed in the 2-1 win for Liverpool but at the Emirates referee, Martin Atkinson made an error. He was ideally positioned to see the Arsenal defender deliberately stick out a leg to stop the progress of Wilfred Zaha in their 2-2 draw. But ended up showing the Crystal Palace player a yellow card.
There is no doubt that the VAR intervention rectified the referee’s decision by advising him to withdraw the yellow card and award a penalty kick. Also, I can see no justification for the Arsenal goal to be ruled out. I can see Gary Cahill push his opponent which on another day a penalty kick would be justified. So the Arsenal goal should have stood and on this the VAR was wrong to intervene.
Generally, my feeling is that football is being badly shown up by rugby union. Just look at two incidents on Saturday. In the first, the referee for England’s World Cup semi-final against New Zealand twice had extensive conversations with his television match official on whether England had scored tries. At every stage, Nigel Owens was kept abreast of the footage available, what could be seen and not seen, and what the advice was; similarly, the TMO was told very clearly and precisely by Owens the basis for his original decisions and what he was seeking from him in the video booth.
It was transparent, thorough and well explained.
Compare that with the farce at Manchester City, where the decision to allow the home side’s second goal against Aston Villa was a case study in all that is wrong with VAR in the Premier League.
After Kevin de Bruyne’s cross went through bodies and into the net, it was checked for a possible offside. VAR could not say for certain whether David Silva had got a touch on the ball – if he had, the goal would have been ruled out as Raheem Sterling, in an offside position, was interfering in play by standing in front of Tom Heaton.