English referees boss Webb says VAR protocol reform is getting over the line

October 12 – English referees’ chief Howard Webb says steps have been taken to avoid a repeat of the controversy surrounding Luis Diaz’s disallowed goal for Liverpool against Tottenham that prompted nationwide debate about whether VAR should be scrapped altogether.

Video assistant referee (VAR) Darren England did not overrule when Diaz was wrongly flagged offside last month. Liverpool lost the game 2-1.

“We’ve put quite a lot of steps in place to ensure the error that we saw doesn’t happen again,” said Webb

In audio recordings of discussions between the match officials made public by referees’ body the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), England says the check is “perfect” before swearing when he realised a mistake has been made.

Webb said VAR had “fallen short” on this occasion and the PGMOL needed to act, with new VAR communication guidelines being applied since then.

“One of things this brought into sharp focus is the need to reiterate some of those communication protocols which are really valuable in VAR to prevent this type of thing happening,” said Webb.

“We worked hard over the subsequent days to have a look at what we needed to do to put in place those safeguards around the communication to avoid that sort of thing happening again.”

Webb said small changes to VAR could be made by the International Football Association Board (Ifab) – the body that determines the laws of the game – in the near future.

“I know that Ifab, in fact before this situation even happened, I knew that they were going to do a full review of the laws of the game relating to the use of VAR,” said Webb.

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