Premier League prepares for VAR controversies during its debut season

Premier League prepares for VAR controversies during its debut season
England’s Ellen White scores a goal that is not allowed after a review of VAR in the Women’s World Cup – Semi-final – England v. United States – Groupama Stadium, Lyon, France – 2 July 2019.


The video assistant referee system, or VAR, will no doubt cause controversy in its debut in the English Premier League next season, but any shortcomings will be resolved in the future, Premier League interim chief executive Richard Masters said.

The VAR has been used in recent months in several high-level competitions, such as the World Cup and Champions League, but the technology has received disparate criticism from players and coaches, as well as frustrated fans.

World football’s governing body, FIFA, defended VAR by saying that referees had achieved a 98% accuracy rate in decision-making in the group phase of the Women’s World Cup.

“I have no doubt that it will generate controversy because these are big decisions, but we are prepared for it,” said Masters in China during the celebration of the Asian Premier League Trophy.

“But we are putting something new in the Premier League, and if it needs to be perfected, improved or adjusted, we will see when the time comes. We have to let it happen first and keep an open mind about whether it’s really working”.

Masters suggested that there could be fewer Premier League stops caused by referees on the field of play reviewing television images.

“Fans want changes in clear mistakes and obvious fouls to be corrected. But they don’t want the Premier League or English football to be interrupted, or the pace of the game to change,” he said.

“The only difference you can see is that referees use the review area more sparingly and rely more on the VAR for more subjective decisions.”

VAR has already been used in other major European leagues such as the German Bundesliga and the Spanish League, as well as in the FA Cup and the English League Cup.

The new Premier League season begins on August 9.

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