February 28 – It’s not VAR per se that’s at fault, it’s the law itself that’s an ass. That’s the argument often churned out by the experts whenever goals are wiped out by the video assistant referee because of marginal offside decisions such as the width of a toe.
The issue comes to a head on Saturday at one of the most eagerly anticipated annual sessions of the International FA Board, the game’s lawmakers. According to reports, FIFA, which has half the votes at IFAB, will be asked to allow for some leeway of a few centimetres in the current offside rule in order to make VAR decisions simpler and more palatable.
But sadly, the frustration seems likely to continue. Arsene Wenger, now head of football development at FIFA, wants the offside law tweaked in favour of the attacker but it is unlikely to lead to an imminent law change.
What could happen, however, are other significant tweaks. Throughout the season, especially in the UK, officials and fans alike have been crying out for VAR to be restricted to “clear and obvious” mistakes, which is what the system is supposed to be about whilst there is also growing demand for more information immediately after a VAR review.
One of the options IFAB members will be quizzed on at the end of Saturday’s meeting is whether IFAB will allow referees to communicate directly with supporters. The current laws of the game prevent an open audio channel between referees and non-match officials.
Another key discussion point will be the English Premier League’s resistance to the use of pitch-side monitors which has caused so much consternation and seems bound to be changed in future.
Other items on the agenda are what to do about concussion, with experts unlikely to agree on the best way forward, and how to improve fair play.
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