VAR What is it good for?

VAR What is it good for?


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Mighty Joe Young

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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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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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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
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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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Nice 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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Nice 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?
 

Lose Remerswaal

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According to this article, 60 fps is not unlikely used for athletics, especially if going to be used for slow motion replays


Which halves those numbers, above. Still not perfect, but better than calculated
 

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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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.
 

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I wouldn't choose X = 3, but for some X that's probably a solution that improves things.
 

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 ..


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?
 
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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.


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.”