VAR What is it good for?

VAR What is it good for?


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    62

Mighty Joe Young

The North remembers
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Sep 14, 2002
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Another dreadful weekend for VAR. Goals disallowed, penalties awarded /not awarded , offsides measured to the nanometer, Red cards not given, red cards given .. I could go on and on but what’s the point.

As a caveat I hate VAR .. it sucks all the immediacy from the game. I have to wait around .. sometimes for minutes on end to have confirmed what I have just witnessed.

That being said, it’s probably not going away (bloody gamblers). So how would you improve it?

From what I’ve seen the main problem is the VAR ref’s reluctance to overturn on-field decisions involving matters of judgement (as opposed to yes/no stuff like offside. The “clear and obvious” bar is far too high. If they are going to submit us to five minutes of nothing then they might as well get it right.

Offside .. the linesmen (and women) are supposed to err on the side of the attacker .. under the theory VAR will fix their mistakes. The Pool/Villa game featured an offside - which should not have been called by the linesmen in the first place and was verified by another five minute wait whereupon Martin Atkinson , the VAR ref ran the imaging through several different algorithms until he got the result he wanted .. to back up the linesman’s call. We have seen this on multiple occasions this year where goals have been disallowed due being offside by less than a centimetre. How does an attacker gain an advantage in that case?

So .. if they must keep this abomination then I would do it this way.
Ditch the offside software .. keep erring in favour of the attacker. In VAR if it’s not offside using the naked eye on replay then it’s not offside. Tie goes to the runner.
Likewise with judgement calls .. watch it on replay two or three times .. if the call isn’t obviously wrong then it stands.
Don’t go hunting for tiny possible infractions for stuff in the box.
Make the on field ref make the final judgement after viewing it in a field monitor. The Bundesliga does this I believe.
 

SocrManiac

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Apr 15, 2006
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I genuinely believe that we're seeing a reluctance on the part of the referees to show each other up from the booth. Whether premeditated in an attempt to prove the uselessness of VAR or human nature, it doesn't matter. It's horrific as it stands.

Virtually every other implementation I've seen allows the match referee to watch the replays and make the decisions. It's a longer break, but it puts responsibility on one person. Make that change and adjust from there.
 

candylandriots

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I voted for don't change a thing, though I do think it could be improved (the choices just weren't there for me to make a better selection). As a fan of a "small" club that has historically seen decisions made in favor of the "bigger" club, I'm glad that this is finally here to even things up a bit. The call last weekend reversing Zaha's so-called dive to a penalty is exactly the sort of decision that fans of teams like Palace have seen go against them against the likes of Arsenal for ages. The big clubs like Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, et. al. seem to have been frequent beneficiaries of judgment calls. It's called Fergie time, not Hodgson time.

There have been some bewildering decisions, but I don't think that is the fault of the rules. The implementation of the rules could be done better. Despite my happiness at the decision, I did not see a "clear and obvious" error, for example, on the play that overruled Soktratis' second goal last week.

And as absurd as the Firmino offside decision looked yesterday, we have the technology. Why shouldn't we use it? Things like offside can be decided quite quickly, so just do it.
 

coremiller

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Jul 14, 2005
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The offside review need to have a built-in margin of error based on the technology's capabilities. I'm extremely skeptical the technology is accurate at the tiny margins it is being used for on calls like the Firmino incident or Son's offside against Leicester a few weeks ago.

The handball mess is more a consequence of the rules being a mess rather than VAR itself. Nobody knows what handball is now, but nobody did before VAR either, and the ref would just frequently ignore the actual rules. VAR is just shining on a harsher light on the underlying problem.

There does seem clearly to be a bias against overturning the on-field ref's decision for fouls in the box, which is bad.
 

wonderland

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Jul 20, 2005
456
The problem with that is the game isn’t played in a vacuum. Unless a decision is at the end of the game, teams change tactics and play as a result of the decisions. Occasionally the majority of the game. I know there’s not much scoring in the sport but the score line dictates decisions.
 

candylandriots

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For sure - though I think it’s useful context for people’s reactions to VAR. I’m a Palace fan, and surprise, I’m pretty happy about VAR at the moment.
 

Stanley Steamer

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http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/50681751Nice quotes from plain-speaking Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder. You can say what you will about how his goalie or team stopped playing upon seeing the linesman's flag last night, but he is direct in speaking about how this new technology is changing the game. Right now, it's for the worse. Can it be better, or should it be scrapped and rethought? I am a current sceptic.
 

candylandriots

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http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/50681751Nice quotes from plain-speaking Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder. You can say what you will about how his goalie or team stopped playing upon seeing the linesman's flag last night, but he is direct in speaking about how this new technology is changing the game. Right now, it's for the worse. Can it be better, or should it be scrapped and rethought? I am a current sceptic.
I haven't been reading the local press about it, but VAR in Germany seems to be going much more smoothly than in the EPL. The reviews I've seen have been quick and seem to let a marginal decision go.

That said, as ridiculous as Shelvey's goal looked last night, what else could they do? It's kind of the mirror image of the Villa goal that was disallowed at Palace at the beginning of the season. In that case, the whistle clearly blew, despite whatever Grealish may or may not have done. But after the whistle blew, there was no way they could have given the goal to Villa.

In other words, I think some of this is refereeing of the original sort rather than the video assistant.
 

SocrManiac

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I can’t find the exact article so I can’t take credit, but I redid the math.

Let’s assume the camera is recording at 30 frames per second.

A striker running at 20 MPH covers 894 cm/second.

That means the camera is taking a picture for every 29.8cm of travel, or 29,800mm.

We’re judging this shit by millimeters when the camera isn’t capable of it. It’s fucking insane.
Quoting my post from the game thread...

So, Liverpool benefited from an insane VAR decision today, and got justice from another.

First, the justice. Lallana put a ball down for Mane with his shoulder. Had this been overturned, it would have been a VAR disaster, given the armpit offside rulings we've seen all season.

Second, the injustice. Wolves had a legitimate goal disallowed and potentially lost two points as a result. This has been happening all season. The technology simply isn't accurate enough for its use right now. I feel like this is a statement from the VAR referees, not necessarily a flaw in the technology. They were originally criticized for refusing to overrule on field decisions. That's relaxed somewhat, but the offside judgments have gone way over the top.

How do we fix this?

What is the offside rule for? It's simple: cherry picking. We don't want an attacker hiding out behind the defense waiting for a ball in.

With that in mind, what are we trying to adjudicate?

Do we want millimeter perfect decisions, such as they're trying to provide? You could create "error bars" in the offside lines. This could be done in a number of ways. I'm not sure if it's possible to hook in to the players' fitness trackers, but you could potentially get exact data on their speed, and adjust error bars for a given frame rate accordingly. This is way overboard, at least to me.

The error bars idea, however, appeals to me. If a player is within, say, 25cm, can we say he's obeying the spirit of the offside rule? He isn't hanging out next to the keeper to clean up a mess. Might this make more sense?
 

fletcherpost

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I was watching a discussion about VAR, specifically offside calls, and they talked about calibration of the 'picture' - does this create another margin of error? I've seen screenshots (renderings) of the pitch with more than one line for each player, showing that going by these lines, he's offside, but by these lines, he's not. There's perspective elements as well.

I'm not explaining this very well. I guess my point, and the point/assertion being made during the segment was that it's not definitive in really close calls and if it's not definitive then what's the use?

The other European leagues that have VAR allow the ref to come to a pitchside screen. But the Premier League don't allow that at this point. What it means is we're quite possibly talking too much of the decision making process away from the ref and it's maybe undermining them. Especially with longer delays, you may as well get the ref over to look at a screen.

That said it is making the game feel more like (US) Pro Football with the protracted stoppages to review plays. We're losing some of the magic of what makes the game so great.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I was watching a discussion about VAR, specifically offside calls, and they talked about calibration of the 'picture' - does this create another margin of error? I've seen screenshots (renderings) of the pitch with more than one line for each player, showing that going by these lines, he's offside, but by these lines, he's not. There's perspective elements as well.

I'm not explaining this very well. I guess my point, and the point/assertion being made during the segment was that it's not definitive in really close calls and if it's not definitive then what's the use?

The other European leagues that have VAR allow the ref to come to a pitchside screen. But the Premier League don't allow that at this point. What it means is we're quite possibly talking too much of the decision making process away from the ref and it's maybe undermining them. Especially with longer delays, you may as well get the ref over to look at a screen.

That said it is making the game feel more like (US) Pro Football with the protracted stoppages to review plays. We're losing some of the magic of what makes the game so great.
The part I like about the ref seeing the monitor is that the ref knows whether he got a good look and what he thinks he saw. Same with the AR. There are probably cases where the ref would look at the video and know right away “oh, that wasn’t what I thought I saw” and where you would not want any deference to the call on the field.

Or the opposite, where the ref feels confident in what he saw and knows exactly why the video is not capturing it.

This is valuable information, especially when thinking about how much to defer to the call on the field.
 

SocrManiac

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The other European leagues that have VAR allow the ref to come to a pitchside screen. But the Premier League don't allow that at this point.
I didn't think EPL referees had the option, either. I heard a few assertions over this holiday period, complete with shots of a pitchside monitor, that suggest this isn't correct. It's news to me and I'm way too far into the bag to do research at this point, but I believe EPL referees have the ability but haven't utilized it yet.
 

candylandriots

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I have said this elsewhere, but in the 15 or so Bundesliga games I’ve watched this year, it has been so much better there than in the EPL.
 

luckiestman

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Jul 15, 2005
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I was watching a discussion about VAR, specifically offside calls, and they talked about calibration of the 'picture' - does this create another margin of error? I've seen screenshots (renderings) of the pitch with more than one line for each player, showing that going by these lines, he's offside, but by these lines, he's not. There's perspective elements as well.

I'm not explaining this very well. I guess my point, and the point/assertion being made during the segment was that it's not definitive in really close calls and if it's not definitive then what's the use?

The other European leagues that have VAR allow the ref to come to a pitchside screen. But the Premier League don't allow that at this point. What it means is we're quite possibly talking too much of the decision making process away from the ref and it's maybe undermining them. Especially with longer delays, you may as well get the ref over to look at a screen.

That said it is making the game feel more like (US) Pro Football with the protracted stoppages to review plays. We're losing some of the magic of what makes the game so great.
I am the most casual of a soccer fan as it gets. I used to watch a lot of Portuguese league after school and have always watched USMNT. Followed EPL for maybe 10 years but never as appointment television. All that said, why I always liked to have a game on is that there were rarely stoppages...they just played. All this to say I share your concern. I might feel differently if I really cared and my squad lost an important game on a bad call. The stoppages are ruining what I liked best.
 

InstaFace

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What is the offside rule for? It's simple: cherry picking. We don't want an attacker hiding out behind the defense waiting for a ball in.

With that in mind, what are we trying to adjudicate?

Do we want millimeter perfect decisions, such as they're trying to provide? You could create "error bars" in the offside lines. This could be done in a number of ways. I'm not sure if it's possible to hook in to the players' fitness trackers, but you could potentially get exact data on their speed, and adjust error bars for a given frame rate accordingly. This is way overboard, at least to me.

The error bars idea, however, appeals to me. If a player is within, say, 25cm, can we say he's obeying the spirit of the offside rule? He isn't hanging out next to the keeper to clean up a mess. Might this make more sense?
I'm very onboard with this, both for original linesman calls and VAR reviews. I've suggested before that the rule ought to be: you're offside if all of your body is past all of the second-last defender. So you have to be fully clear of them to be in an offside position, and a stray toe or leg really ought to make no difference. And it's still equivalently easy for the linesman, because instead of him looking for any part of the attacker past that defender, he's looking for daylight between the attacker and defender.

That does make one think then, well, what do we coach? Do we have attackers take some liberties to be always a half-step behind the defenders, waiting around? You just know the Luis Suarezes of the world will be looking to squeeze every inch of advantage from it.

A halfway measure might be that VAR should only overrule to call someone offside if they are off by that amount. So that'd be a variation on your "25cm" (what's that, ~10 inches?), just substantially more liberal. Instead of throwing your hand in the air to demand an offside call from an official that has already made his mind up and you're not going to spontaneously change it... maybe just run harder to get back and defend the damn play.
 

The Gray Eagle

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VAR sucks mostly because there are too many reviews that take too long, and too many plays are changed because of tiny, barely observable margins.

Just getting rid of VAR would suck because there are so many bad calls, and some hugely important bad calls would be missed. Referee error would be impossible to fix, even when it's blatantly obvious from the video that everyone around the world can see. Bad calls could unfairly impact many games and even determine championships, with no recourse for teams to get the call changed.

The best scenario would be to have far fewer reviews, but still have the ability to overturn bad calls that are very impactful and/or obviously wrong.

IMO there should only be video reviews when one team challenges a call.
Every call that a ref makes should be reviewable.
Video review should last only 30 seconds at most-- look at the video, see if the call was clearly wrong, and if it's not clear after 30 seconds of video review, then it's not clear enough to overturn.

And, crucially, severely limit the amount of failed challenges each team has. Any time a team challenges a call and they are correct, they should not be penalized at all. Their challenge was a positive for the game-- it turned around a mistake and fixed it. But failed challenges should be strongly discouraged. They are a huge waste of everyone's time, and show a lack of judgment by the challenging team.

So teams should only get a handful of failed challenges-- not per game, but per season.

If each team only gets say 3 failed challenges per year, they are going to use them very sparingly, only for the most important and obvious missed calls. Or else they will lose their recourse for fixing bad calls in the future. And that will be their own fault, not the fault of bad refereeing or stupid rules.

This would result in far fewer reviews, and far less wasted time over failed challenges. But teams still would have recourse when a bad call could damage their season.

This wouldn't directly fix the issue of the fine margins of disputed calls, but reducing the number of reviews and strictly limiting the review time would make this a far less frequent problem. If you have to save your challenges, you'd want to use them only when the call is very important to your season, and/or when the call was clearly missed.

If done correctly, this could cut down on players complaining to the refs, holding up their hands to claim offside, etc. Anytime a player confronts a ref, the ref would just say "Is your coach using one of your challenges on this? Yes? Then shut up and we'll go to the video. No? Then shut up and get away from me."

If VAR only comes into play rarely, and only for calls that are hugely impactful or clearly wrong, then everything gets better.
 

candylandriots

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I was trying to think of a way yesterday to have a coach’s challenge and couldn’t because of the idea that so many decisions are so big precisely because goals are so rare. But limiting it to a season is a pretty interesting idea. I like it.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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IMO, the offside calls are the worst implementation of VAR - being as they go against the stated philosophy of only overturning obvious errors.

But - they are basically telling the linespeople to only flag for really obvious offsides - then relying on VAR to fix it. So you have to have VAR take a look.

The problem, as has been stated, is they are using (substandard) tech to evaluate the call. For the sake of argument, lets pretend the tech is perfect - but is this really what we want? There's no inherent advantage to being offside by a millimetre.Calling back a goal for that is stupid - and just about everyone seems to agree on this.

So let the on-field ref look at a replay of the suspected off side .. you can use tech to adjust for angles and the like but not these comparative "lines" .. just eyeball it. And use the same "call on the field stands unless in the case of an obvious error" philosophy.
 

teddykgb

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I feel the exact opposite. I think a system like that would be a disaster. If you’re going to penalize a team for getting it wrong they will demand extra scrutiny on stuff like fractional offsides. And then if you do run out of challenges then the team ends up having to suffer an obvious error later and we are in an even more absurd world where we have an error and the means to correct it but choose not to because of a technicalit. It’s the technicality of it all which creates tedium and a feeling of cheapness in the first place.

VAR is a disaster and I’ve probably decreased my viewing by a huge percentage this season. I don’t watch this sport to watch good goals chalked off for small debatable lawyerly interpretations of bad rules. The refs are the spectacl, like they have become in every sport with these dumb challenge systems. It isn’t rewarding to watch as a fan. If they must persist, they clearly need to revamp either the rules or the way they review offside and handball because these are being called inconsistently and with a spirit of bad justice. I really wish they’d do It more like rugby with the on field refs looking at a Jumbotron ideally in full speed. Im in favor of using feet or full daylight for offside. And above all else just give the shitty refs the ability to flag somethin to look at without all these dumb restrictive rules-their job is to get it right and this nonsense about flagging late and waiting for eyes in the sky to speak in their earpiece and fake deference to the call on the pitch is just causing confusion. I think we need to stop in all sports trying to create the perfect rules and just inject some common sense back into the system. I’ll pick on my own team so it is less biased, there’s no way that Sheffield United goal yesterday wasn’t a good goal. That’s a beautiful goal and the players are level enough to defend it, even if there is some potential for offside I need refs with enough nous to understand the situation and in effect to tell City to fuck off and defend better.

Either way, I don’t think the tech is there for mm offside reviews for both film speed and the completely arbitrary decision on when the ball is actually leaving the players foot. in the small spaces we are talking about, even a small error in decision on when the ball is played has huge ramifications. It’s all a fake attempt at truth but in my view it’s manufactured truth. I legitimately think most of these calls could go either way at the whim of the guy operating the video. I do like the margin of error idea though, if the lines are within a foot of each other call it good and move on. Would need to get linesmen back into making calls again though
 

The Gray Eagle

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I feel the exact opposite. I think a system like that would be a disaster. If you’re going to penalize a team for getting it wrong they will demand extra scrutiny on stuff like fractional offsides.
How will they "demand extra scrutiny"? By waving their arms and screaming? Tough.
They would know before challenging that the review will get 30 seconds, tops. They would know that they would be using one of their precious challenges on a call that isn't clear. That's their own choice. If they choose to waste a challenge like that, it's on them.

And then if you do run out of challenges then the team ends up having to suffer an obvious error later and we are in an even more absurd world where we have an error and the means to correct it but choose not to because of a technicalit. It’s the technicality of it all which creates tedium and a feeling of cheapness in the first place.
That would only happen if the team has already lost 3 challenges that season. That would be their own fault for misusing their challenges. That's not a technicality, it's making them be responsible for their own choices. They've already held up the game and wasted everyone's time by challenging calls that were not clearly wrong 3 times already that season, all the while knowing what the limit is. No one should have any sympathy for a team in that position.

The whole idea would be to cut way down on the video reviews, while still giving teams recourse for important calls and clearly wrong calls. If they choose to squander their recourse, that is on them.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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Jürgen Klopp claims a recent management meeting with EUFA officials have come up with a “solution” to the marginal offside calls ..

https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/jurgen-klopp-suggests-top-managers-21194566
Basically, the idea is to make the defender’s “line” bigger than the attackers .. aka insert a margin for error ..

Seems like a decent idea .. would this just be for the Champions League ? Or all European leagues?
 
Last edited:

Tuff Ghost

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This is not exactly what the thread title was asking about ("VAR, what is it good for?"), but it came to mind while reading an article on the the Athletic about former Premier League (and currently trying to work his way back) referee, Bobby Madley.

Some refs have spoken about how VAR has been good for them because it has re-directed anger and vitriol previously saved for them to the more nebulous concept of VAR.

The abuse and psychological strain that the refs face is incredible and I have always wondered why anyone would want to take on such a thankless job. Having VAR as a fall-back seems like a gift for the mental sanity of these guys who are trying to watch 22 incredibly quick people on an enormous pitch and not make a mistake that the slow-motion replays will show in painstaking detail, as the world wonders how the incompetent ref missed it.

It is a pretty humanizing article that I thought was worth sharing.

https://theathletic.com/1610218/2020/02/20/bobby-madley-referee/
I’d be sitting up at three in the morning, in tears, thinking about everything, wondering what I could have done differently.

“I’d find myself going on Twitter to look through every post that was about me. I was searching for that one positive line, just one person to say, ‘Leave him alone, he’s a really nice guy’ or ‘He doesn’t deserve this’. I was tormenting myself and, of course, what you get on Twitter are people criticising you, and worse.

“It just didn’t get better. It was pretty much every night that I’d be up, crying, unable to sleep. It got to the stage where I wasn’t feeling well. I was tired all the time. I did a fitness test. I got halfway round and that’s the last I remember of it. I woke up in an ambulance.

“I’d collapsed. I spent the night in hospital. They did lumbar puncture, blood tests, everything. They thought I might have had a bleed on the brain or a mini-stroke. In the end, they put it down to stress. My body had shut down. Something inside my head went, ‘You can’t do this any more’.

“You remember the bad ones, though. It was hard. You don’t need Match of the Day to tell you. There are no excuses. I didn’t referee well that day and the drive home… well, it was tough. You drive on your own because the rules state you have to. It was five hours back to where I lived in the north. It was snowing. I was talking to my mates and my brother [Andrew is another PGMOL referee]. I always listen to the radio, the phone-ins, and I was getting crucified.

“I was being destroyed on national radio and trying to concentrate on a five-hour drive. It puts you in a difficult position to keep your head straight and get home safely. I sulk for three days and I’m probably a nightmare to live with. Just because you referee a Premier League game, it doesn’t mean your skin is that thick you can shut it out. But then you have to move on because you have another game.”
 

SocrManiac

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This is the way it needs to be. I hate to have to rely on the judgement of the Atkinsons and Deans of the world, but they’ve virtually proved that they can’t get the language of the rule correct.

I believe the drive to remove subjectivity comes from hearts being in the right place. We’ve seen enough corruption in top flight leagues to justify taking it out of the hands of some of the shadier leagues. I think EPL is fairly safe from such concerns. Not sure I’d want to see CONCACAF do this.
 

SocrManiac

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If we’re going to use technology, it’s time to use technology.

The ball is tracked with Hawkeye. Players have tracking devices. They could even put a pressure transducer in the ball. Use speed data from the players and the ball to add thickness to the offside lines based on the uncertainty created by the camera’s framerate. The pressure transducer in the ball could be used to determine when the ball is passed, selecting the correct camera frame to use. If the lines overlap, offside cannot be given because it cannot be determined.

Referees at the screen should watch in in real-time. No slow motion. Context is important when determining a foul or handball. An awful lot of intent can be assigned to a player when a reflexive motion that took a fraction of a second looks like a determined action over the course of 5 slow mo seconds.

Clarify whether “clear and obvious” is the standard, and if it is use a panel of three referees not in the same booth to vote on it within a few seconds of the event. If their consensus is clear and obvious, it meets the threshold for review. If not, play on.
 

OCST

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If we’re going to use technology, it’s time to use technology.

The ball is tracked with Hawkeye. Players have tracking devices. They could even put a pressure transducer in the ball. Use speed data from the players and the ball to add thickness to the offside lines based on the uncertainty created by the camera’s framerate. The pressure transducer in the ball could be used to determine when the ball is passed, selecting the correct camera frame to use. If the lines overlap, offside cannot be given because it cannot be determined.

Referees at the screen should watch in in real-time. No slow motion. Context is important when determining a foul or handball. An awful lot of intent can be assigned to a player when a reflexive motion that took a fraction of a second looks like a determined action over the course of 5 slow mo seconds.

Clarify whether “clear and obvious” is the standard, and if it is use a panel of three referees not in the same booth to vote on it within a few seconds of the event. If their consensus is clear and obvious, it meets the threshold for review. If not, play on.


I agree 100% with the red.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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Back to the original question of this thread.. after watching a couple of years of VAR in the Premier League , the basic question for me is “ has it enhanced or detracted from your experience as a fan of your team?” I’m not talking about whether it has helped or hindered your team .. but the actual enjoyment you get from watching the game. And , at least for me it’s a resounding Detracted. Every game I watch in which I have a vested interest I can’t celebrate what I see on the field. Every goal or play in the box generates a darkly clouded thought balloon in my head .. did that just happen .. will it count ? I don’t think this is what the powers that be had in mind with VAR’s introduction. I mean, what sport deliberately sabotages its product?

Apparently world soccer is the answer.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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On one of the midweek Premier League Today shows they had their resident ex-referee commentator talking about the Robertson pen call. He thought it was a PEN .. but only after watching in slo motion. Which seems to go against the “clear and obvious” ground rules for overturning on field calls. But, given a mountain of evidence I don’t think Clear and Obvious means the same to referees as it does to fans. He thought it was a clear and obvious foul.

The more interesting thing he revealed was that refs are evaluated and “marked” if they miss calls. Which completely calls bullshit on the pitch-side monitor final review. If you are the ref and the VAR guy tells you to check some decision isn’t that essentially telling him to overturn it , otherwise you will be subsequently be penalized?
 

SocrManiac

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Apr 15, 2006
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I think it's time to top this thread again.

VAR in the EPL has been a consistent disaster. I'm wavering on the line between this being simple negligence and there being a pattern/protest going on within PMGOL.

Key issues, as I see them:
  1. Lack of transparency: There is no communication justifying decisions. Many folks have brought rugby up in this regard, where the officials explain the decisions. I think people will still be angry, but at least hearing the rationale can help guide the conversation.
  2. Lack of accountability: When a ref screws up, it has massive implications. That's why VAR was implemented. However, we very rarely see referees in England face any type of sanctions for screwups. Contrast that with what just happened in Italy: Two referees were just suspended for a clear penalty fuckup (sorry, it's in Italian): https://www.gazzetta.it/Calcio/Serie-A/14-03-2022/rigore-negato-torino-stop-almeno-3-turni-guida-massa-4301847694714.shtml
  3. Lack of consistency: Even within the same match, there is no clear idea of what will happen. Sir Harry got away with an ankle-breaker on Robertson, who was in turn (rightfully) dismissed for a bad foul later on.
  4. Rulebook exposure: When we're using forensic tools to determine offside, the wording of the law becomes important. The fact that we can't figure out where on the arm we should discuss offside highlights this problem. Why do we care? Why are we looking this deeply?
  5. Technological capability: I've beaten this drum a few times, but the cameras are not capable of making the decisions on the borderline situations. Framerate, coupled with the incredible athletic ability, introduces error bars that are far larger than the margins they're using. We were told this would be improved this year but as far as I can tell they're still using pixel-tight lines.
I am leaning toward there being an issue with PMGOL referees in particular not using the technology correctly. We don't have a definitive look at the instruction sets given in England versus the other leagues, but it's clear the implementation elsewhere has been far more successful. There is deference to the on-field referee beyond the point of reasonable doubt. Ignoring offside decisions for a moment (which are their own can of worms), we have had what feels like an unprecedented number of universally-agreed upon situations go the other way without any reasonable explanation. Nobody, from players, fans, ex-referees, pundits, etc, can understand or even justify the decision within the written letter of the laws of the game.

The margins this year are so tight that this really matters more than it has in the past. Already, there have been some significant incidents that have changed table positions and points from top to bottom. At the end of the year a few different outlets will publish a "corrected" table, but that will be of little comfort to fans of teams wrongfully relegated or (and I think this likely to happen) finishing in second (sour grapes and accusations of whining accepted).
 

SoxFanInCali

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The refs are lousy in real time, and for the most part they don't want to correct their fellow refs when assigned as the VAR referee.

To use this weekend as an example, I thought the Brighton keeper wiping out Luis Diaz late after he'd already headed the ball towards goal was a pretty clear case of dangerous play and should have been a red, but I would listen to a discussion of why he shouldn't be sent off (especially as the goal was scored anyways). But the much more ridiculous part of the call is that Mike Dean originally gave nothing at all. How anyone can see that (even from 20 yards away) and decide it's not even a yellow is sheer incompetence. But because Dean did not make any call, VAR could only decide if it was nothing or a red, and because the original call was no foul at all, maybe the VAR ref thought it would be too embarrassing to Dean to give a red for a foul that he completely missed. If he'd originally showed the keeper a yellow, would VAR have upgraded it to a red? Maybe, maybe not, but a system that allows for no punishment at all is a broken system.
 

Zososoxfan

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The Man in the Middle documentary (discussed somewhere in Gazza, not sure if this thread) is a good watch on the subject of VAR. I'd love to see the EPL version of it, but no way they subject their refs to that scrutiny. But perhaps the threat of it could allow for some changes.
 

candylandriots

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I used to be a supporter of VAR in the EPL. I’m more of the mind that it’s being used as a tool against its implementation than anything now. The quality of VAR calls compared to the Bundesliga is staggering. The DFB refs aren’t so much better that there should be a lack of controversy there. I watch the Bundesliga almost as much as the PL and the quality of reviewed calls, the speed and consistency are so much better that I don’t believe it could possibly be random chance. Kevin Friend’s call a couple weeks ago was shameful. Mike Dean had definitely had his moments too. If this is truly the top quality refereeing that the PL can obtain, then maybe they need to go back to first principles before trying to to make a 1cm offside call. Walk before you run.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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The refs are lousy in real time, and for the most part they don't want to correct their fellow refs when assigned as the VAR referee.

To use this weekend as an example, I thought the Brighton keeper wiping out Luis Diaz late after he'd already headed the ball towards goal was a pretty clear case of dangerous play and should have been a red, but I would listen to a discussion of why he shouldn't be sent off (especially as the goal was scored anyways). But the much more ridiculous part of the call is that Mike Dean originally gave nothing at all. How anyone can see that (even from 20 yards away) and decide it's not even a yellow is sheer incompetence. But because Dean did not make any call, VAR could only decide if it was nothing or a red, and because the original call was no foul at all, maybe the VAR ref thought it would be too embarrassing to Dean to give a red for a foul that he completely missed. If he'd originally showed the keeper a yellow, would VAR have upgraded it to a red? Maybe, maybe not, but a system that allows for no punishment at all is a broken system.
Id be echoing this view. VAR‘s exists simply to whitewash the stupidity of the original call. To give it the veneer of “well, it was checked so there’s nothing to see here”. The flip side is the hypocrisy of the “on field check” which exists merely to keep up the pretence that the ref is in charge. The only time VAR overturns calls (other than offsides) is when the blunder is so obvious that not reversing it would basically result in the cops being brought in to investigate betting scandals.

and as @SocrManiac has eloquently put it on offsides the tech is insufficient to measure what they are purporting to measure.


And my own personal and irrefutable beef.. it has robbed the game of its immediacy. You can’t cheer or cry or moan or celebrate. You have to wait around while some doofus in a booth in a basement in London decides whether what I just saw has actually happened. Why did they do this???????
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I think the offsides implementation is far-from-perfect but still significantly superior to pre-VAR days, when it wouldn't be uncommon for a guy to be a full yard offside but the referee/linesman to blow the call (often because they were caught behind the play for whatever reason). I can't imagine going back to no VAR at all on offsides.

But the implementation on penalties and red cards is simply awful. I think Socrmaniac nails it in that the key pillars of any functional system - transparency and accountability - are just completely absent in the design of the system.

Its really not hard to imagine a better system:

-The on field and VAR referee should be considered a team (maybe pairs even work together consistently for a while season). Their most important task should be to get the right call in the end.

-Instruct the VAR referee to stop the game when there is a reason to consult the on-field referee on a major decision (penalty or red card) that might not have been correct (not only when there is a clear and obvious error). The VAR referee should do this quickly, the onfield referee likewise quickly moves to the monitor for a quick chat, they make the decision together, and move forward.

-Make it clear that a consultation need not result in the overturn of the initial call. The consultation is to ensure that the right call is made when there is a question of a penalty or red card.

-The two referees submit a post-match report that briefly explains their rationale for any decision requiring a consultation, or any one decision that was not chosen for consultation that is requested by the manager of either team,.

-At the end of the season, there is a process of reviewing all the consultation decisions by each refereeing team and any team that is adjudged to have blown more than X calls over the course of the season gets demoted to a different level of the football pyramid.
 

PedroSpecialK

Comes at you like a tornado of hair and the NHL sa
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SocrManiac

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Seeing that Lovren play followed by the Kane dive made my blood boil again. Fuck Harry Kane forever.

I think the offsides implementation is far-from-perfect but still significantly superior to pre-VAR days, when it wouldn't be uncommon for a guy to be a full yard offside but the referee/linesman to blow the call (often because they were caught behind the play for whatever reason). I can't imagine going back to no VAR at all on offsides.
I don't feel that they've improved the overall situation with offside. While they've cleaned up misses of a player that was clearly off, they've chalked off countless legitimate goals. The most recent is the Lukaku call in the Carabao Cup final encompasses everything that is horrendous with the current setup:

50183

  1. He's offside by a part of his body that can't be used to score.
    1. If VVD is in the act of twisting his torso to run, his arm might pull Lukaku back onside. That's fucking insane.
  2. How was the frame selected? Has the ball left the foot? Has it just struck the foot? Is it in mid strike? If you're going to use these margins, this shit matters.
  3. Let's assume he's sprinting at a conservative 15 MPH. That's 22 feet per second. That's about a foot per frame of footage with these cameras. Are the lines a foot thick to show that error? Nope.
  4. Is this what the offside law was introduced to prevent? Is Lukaku goal hanging? Has he gained an advantage by his arm being offside?
  5. The call changed the result of a cup final.
  6. The caption's point is well taken, but he was called offside by a delayed flag in realtime. The "clear and obvious error" rationale would swing in the wrong direction on this one, but having that ambiguous standard has been held up as a "Get out of jail free" card.
All of this ignores the delayed offside flag that is going to get somebody killed at some point. Any time you have these athletes at peak speed, such as a break that happens in one of these situations, the potential exists for serious injury. The assistants are keeping the flags down even for blatant offside. It's just stupid.
 

wonderland

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Jul 20, 2005
456
It seems like such an easy fix. Only have the linesperson put up the flag if they are certain the player is offside. Otherwise play on. If a goal is scored, do a quick check to make sure the player definitely wasn’t offside otherwise the goal stands.
Agreed about the delayed offsides call. Makes no sense at all.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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This is much more of a "vibes" comment than I like to generally make, but it's seemed to me that from damn near day one England's popular soccer culture decided VAR was a shitshow and then it's basically been a shitshow ever since, while other places more decided "I guess this is a tool we are going to use" and have then been using it, trying to improve how they use it, etc. Meanwhile England thought it was bad, used it badly, and rather than trying to systematically improve its usage they seem to just zig and zag on it based on the latest media whining.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I don't feel that they've improved the overall situation with offside. While they've cleaned up misses of a player that was clearly off, they've chalked off countless legitimate goals. The most recent is the Lukaku call in the Carabao Cup final encompasses everything that is horrendous with the current setup:
I hated that call and agree completely with the critique. But the alternative universe we're contemplating is one in which Lukaku is a full yard offside and yet the flag doesn't go up and he scores to win the cup while everybody in red stands around with their hand up looking confused. Somehow I don't think you and other Liverpool supporters would be happy with that scenario either!

I don't think we can put the toothpaste back in the tube with VAR and offside. People have gotten used to the idea of not having egregiously bad calls made and seeing all these camera angles. If you take VAR away you're going to have all sorts of terrible decisions with an unprecedented degree of video documentation of just how bad they were. IMO, the answer is to improve VAR both in its implementation and in the technology utilized, not to scrap it completely.

On a sporting level, I also think scrapping VAR for offsides would incentivize less high line football and more deep defending. Having lots of teams up and down the table willing to play adventurously and push up further has been a real boon to the game from a sporting perspective and while some of that is just tactical evolution its also been somewhat a product of having the confidence that you won't concede a shit goal on a clear offsides.
 

SocrManiac

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VAR for offside should be the simplest part of the system. Just thicken the lines and it's done. We shouldn't be looking for fractions here. Camera resolution and framerate have more to do with the decision right now than the relationship between the players. Lean into the capabilities of the tech, don't look for it to do something it's not capable of doing. Acknowledge where the tolerance and error bars are, embrace them, and call it a day. This should be stupidly easy.

I think we're falling into the sunk cost fallacy that because we've gone so far down the current refinement path. Does anybody think this is headed in the correct direction? Scrap what's on paper, blank sheet it, and start over. Don't continue to optimize a fundamentally flawed system.
 

candylandriots

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In yesterday's Crystal Palace-Chlesea match, Thiago Silva very clearly and deliberately handled the ball to stop Jordan Ayew. He was given a yellow card for the offense. People either seem to think it was clearly a red, or clearly not. What do you guys think?

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1pxC0x0-gc&t=5s


There's another video with a better look at it on this page that I don't know how to embed here - it's from reddit. What do you guys think on this one?