Premier League referees made six incorrect VAR interventions in the first part of the season before the break for the World Cup which, according to ESPN sources, includes Arsenal’s goal at Manchester United.
An independent panel, made up of three former players and one representative for both the Premier League and PGMOL, assesses all key match incidents across a weekend and reports back to clubs on a Thursday indicating where mistakes have been made.
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Howard Webb has now taken over as PGMOL’s chief refereeing officer, charged with improving standards of officiating both on the pitch and in the VAR room. A dedicated VAR coach has been appointed to work with the two full-time video referees and those who rotate into Stockley Park.
Webb will be eager to reduce the number of mistakes being made in the VAR room, with the panel reporting that six of the 48 overturns this season being incorrect. Sources have told ESPN that the list of mistakes includes the goal. Gabriel Martinelli thought he scored to put Arsenal in front in the 12th minute at Old Trafford when the game was goalless. The VAR, Lee Mason, advised referee Paul Tierney that the goal should be ruled out for a foul in the buildup by Martin Odegaard on Christian Eriksen. United went on to win the game 3-1.
Also included among the errors is the decision to rule out Maxwel Cornet’s late equaliser for West Ham United at Chelsea for a foul in the build-up by Jarrod Bowen on Edouard Mendy, and an own goal by Crystal Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell at Newcastle United which was disallowed for a foul in the buildup by Joe Willock on goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.
The penalty awarded to Brentford at Nottingham Forest, when the VAR judged that goalkeeper Dean Henderson had brought down Yoane Wissa for a penalty, was also wrong.
There have been several more missed interventions, too, with ESPN sources revealing that two West Ham goals should have been disallowed for handball in a 3-1 win at home to Fulham.
The six incorrect VAR overturns
Crystal Palace 3-1 Aston Villa
Penalty conceded (scored on the rebound by Wilfried Zaha) for handball by Lucas Digne, 55th minute
Chelsea 2-1 West Ham
Maxwel Cornet goal disallowed for a foul in the build-up by Jarrod Bowen on Edouard Mendy, 90th minute
Newcastle 0-0 Crystal Palace
Tyrick Mitchell own goal ruled out for a foul in the build-up by Joe Willock on Vicente Guaita, 51st minute
Man United 3-1 Arsenal
Gabriel Martinelli goal disallowed for a foul in the buildup by Martin Odegaard on Christian Eriksen, 12th minute
Fulham 3-0 Aston Villa
Douglas Luiz sent off for violent conduct against Aleksandar Mitrovic, 61st minute
Nottingham Forest 1-3 Brentford
Penalty awarded (scored by Bryan Mbeumo) for a foul by Dean Henderson on Yoane Wissa, 44th minute
Webb will be visiting all Premier League clubs in the new year to meet key personnel and talk about what is expected from referees, try to open up a conversation about how things should change and discuss the rationale for decision-making. This will include a review of the implementation of VAR in the Premier League, and managing expectations.
A decision has not yet been taken on introducing semi-automated VAR next season, as used by FIFA in the World Cup and UEFA in the Champions League.
Meanwhile, the Premier League — in conjunction with Major League Soccer and France’s Ligue 1 — has made an application to football’s lawmakers, the IFAB, to trial temporary concussions subs from next season.
At present, a player is assessed on the field before a doctor determines if they should be removed from the game. This has led to some troubling scenes with players determined to stay on the pitch, including Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand against England, who was eventually replaced after trying to play on and going down a second time.
The Premier League wants to take players out of the game and into the medical room to be assessed for 10 minutes, at which point they will either return to the match or the temporary substitute will become permanent.
The IFAB’s Annual General Meeting is due to be held in March when the leagues will be told if they have permission for the trail, but some other European leagues are against deviating from permanent concussion substitutes.