Hanging Judge: Is VAR the way to go?

Errol Sweeney
Errol Sweeney

By now, you’re all pretty familiar with the video assistant referee (VAR) system. In case there are some who don’t know what it means or have been living under a rock or on another planet, it’s technology designed to help the ref on the field make decisions.

This is the gadget that’s supposed to be the answer to all our problems when it comes to “assisting” the referee to bring clarity to situations that occur on the field and help him, and all of us, arrive at a conclusive decision.

Is that clear?

I don’t mean to be offensive or facetious, but the “gadget” is becoming a bit of a joke and cause for some doubt and even ridicule.

Recently, there were some incidents where the VAR was called into action. A case in point is the recent FA Cup semifinal between Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion at Wembley Stadium in London. The two players concerned were Kyle Walker of City and Alireza Jahanbakhsh of Brighton.

Following a tussle for the ball, both players got to their feet and engaged in a bit of “mountain goating” by putting their foreheads together. Brighton were incensed and demanded the ref look at the VAR as it was felt the City player moved his head forward, thereby necessitating a red card.

Following a review by the so-called television match official Paul Tierney, it was decided that a red card would not be applicable, and so the game continued.

The general rule of thumb in such instances is that if a player moves his head forward, as Walker did, a red card is issued. But it was not to be, and so the debate over VAR continues to be vocal and lively.

New law changes continued

Law 13 (free kicks)

  • Once an indirect free kick (IDFK) has been taken, the referee can stop showing the IDFK signal (hand over his head) if it is clear that a goal cannot be scored directly (for example, from most offside IDFKs).
  • For defending team free kicks in their penalty area, the ball is in play once it is kicked and clearly moves; it does not have to leave the penalty area.
  • When there is a defensive “wall” of at least three players, all attacking team players must be at least 1m from the wall; IDFK if they encroach.

Law 14 (the penalty kick)

  • Goalposts, crossbar and nets must not be moving when a penalty is taken, and the goalkeeper must not be touching them.
  • Goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot on, or in line with, the goal line when a penalty kick is taken; cannot stand behind the line.
  • If an offence occurs after the referee signals for a penalty kick to be taken but the kick is not taken, it must then be taken after any YC/RC (yellow or red card) is issued.

Law 15 (the throw-in)

Opponents must be at least 2m from the point on the touchline where a throw-in is to be taken, even if the thrower is back from the line.

Law 16 (the goal kick)

At goal kicks, the ball is in play once it is kicked and clearly moves; it does not have to leave the penalty area.

I received this question from City Press reader Roy Langerveldt: “Please elaborate on the contentious issue of dissent. When is it applied?

“My players get cautioned left, right and centre for questioning decisions in a sporting manner. Sometimes, when they make known their displeasure in an innocent manner, they get cautioned. The professional players get away with it, but amateur players get a raw deal.”

My answer is that, generally, dissent is punishable under Law 12 with either a reprimand or a yellow card. But if dissent by “word or action” is more vociferous or violent in nature, a red card can be issued.

Happy whistling!

Follow me on Twitter @dr_errol

*Please send your questions for the Hanging judge to sports@citypress.co.za

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