With the introduction of VAR being heralded as the start of a removal of controversial decisions in the FA Premiership, the first two weeks have exposed many issues with VAR.While…

With the introduction of VAR being heralded as the start of a removal of controversial decisions in the FA Premiership, the first two weeks have exposed many issues with VAR.
While the decisions for handball in the penalty area are correct by the letter of the new laws, it is the offside decisions that are more controversial. The new laws on handball, take out any subjectivity about decisions, but they are different if the offence is by the attacker of defender! Even some of the commentators (well the BT Sport ones covering Scottish Football), don’t appear to know the new laws. An unnatural position for a defender (if your arms are considered to be in) are when they are not by their side (like in a silhouette). While this is debatable if it is unnatural, especially if you are running, at least there is a template to follow. At this point, it can be considered that the law is wrong and VAR is only a tool to respect it. As for the attacker, any contact with the arm leading to a goal or a shot at goal is considered an offence! But if it is unintentional and then the ball hits a defender and goes for a corner, a corner is given! This is where the law is a fallacy, and VAR can not be used. How to sort this is a hornets nest. Do they say any handball in the box is a penalty as at least it takes the subjectivity out of it. But then again, Scotland’s women’s team had a penalty against them awarded and then in the next game, the same situation and no VAR or penalty awarded. If for the sake of argument, any handball should be given as an offence, accidental or deliberate, this takes out any debatable.
As for offside! This is even worse as they seem to be looking at inches to decide if a player is offside. The lines that have been drawn are also debatable from game to game! A few years ago they said that there needed to be daylight between the players. If that was the call, and it worked, the benefit would go with the the attacker. With VAR, they are now looking for parts of the body (arm, foot, nose), to decide if a player is offside. If they are going to be so prescriptive about offsides, it should only relate to the torso. That would follow what is used in athletics, for the position of athletes in a race. When the clock stops (or winner is declared) it is based on when any part of the torso (not head, arms or legs) crosses the line. This should be used for offside. It should be that body section that decides if the person is offside. While I think they should go back to having daylight between the attacker and defender for the player to be offside, as level is ‘onside’, if they are going to look at close lines, they should use the the torso, and if they are level, they are onside. If VAR is going to continue with the over-prescription of interpretation, they should bring in the rule similar to cricket. If the decision given by the assistant referee (AR: linesman) is queried and VAR looks at the decision, if it is not clear on the first look (or a set time), then the decision made by the AR stands. This would be similar to LBW decisions in cricket where if less that half the ball is going to hit the wicket, the decision of the onfield umpire stands. So, if they cant conclusively say they were offside / onside, the decision by the AR should stand.
Finally, all the clamour for VAR in Scotland has died down as they are seeing that at the moment, the system is creating as much controversy than it is solving!

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