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Premier League Referee's Motives Called Into Question Yet Again As Vestergaard's Red Card Is Overtur
Wednesday, 5th May 2021 15:42

When Jannik Vestergaard was sent off against Leicester City last Friday there wasn't a Southampton supporter surprised, the problem though is not VAR but the abilities of those operating the system.

It didn't take a genius to see that Jannik Vestergaard had played the ball when he slid in and pushed it back to Alex McCarthy in the Saints goal with Jamie Vardy having no chance of reaching it whether Vestergaard caught him or not.

But inevitably confusion then reigned with those sitting watching on Var making a decision based not on fact but on their own interpretation of the rules, something that is often as has proved recently for Saints not just with Jannik Vestergaard's sending off but also Jan Bednarek's at Manchester United.

Vestergaard has now been exonerated and is able to play for Saints at Liverpool, but the fact still remains that Saints had to play Leicester for 80 minutes with only 10 men.

But the question needs to be asked just how so called professional 's at the peak of their game can get so many decisions wrong, even after as they did on Friday spending almost 3 minutes looking at the footage.

Now I don't think that Premier League referee's are in the main incapable nor are they cheats, but they are getting it wrong and it beggars the question "are they doing it deliberately"

As a referee you can either accept VAR as a useful tool in getting most decisions right, or you can see it as something that is calling into question your own ability and the sheer number of wrong calls that are obvious to the average football fan seems to suggest the latter.

I am a fan of VAR in that it is surely better to have something that cuts out errors, the problem isn't with the equipment it is with those who operate it, be they back in the control room or in some occasions the on the field ref.

It is as if the ref's have contrived together to turn VAR into something that is so unpopular it will be scrapped and will no longer call into question their own ability.

VAR can be brilliant if used properly, that means accepting that it is not there to get 100" of the decisions right 100% of the time, but is there to cut out the errors that can happen in a fast paced Premier League game with players diving all over the place.

Once you start drawing lines and trying to find an inch of a boot or the upper arm on or off side then it is defeating the object and ruining the game.

The truth is most of the time VAR is not noticed and does it's job, but it is the times when those in the control room want to start drawing lines it all goes wrong.

Truth is as most of us know, when a goal is scored there are 15-30 seconds when the scorer runs to the corner flag banging his hand on his badge that give VAR time for a quick look, in maybe 80% of the cases it is clear in that 30 seconds whether a goal is good or whether it needs to be looked at again, then if they had another 30 seconds it should be clear either way, if it is not then the goal should stand.

That would mean that VAR could quickly and sort out the remaining 20%, Ok it would get some wrong, when those annoying lines are drawn, but in the grand scheme of things it would cut out most errors and perhaps leave just a small fraction that are wrong.

That has to be better than what went on before where players were 2 yards on or offside etc, where blatant handballs were missed , it is about getting a higher percentage right without impacting on the game itself, nit getting each and every call right to the nearest millimetre.

So given the technology and the fact that the Premier League referees are in the main quite professional and capable, why are they ruining the game by such overkill decisions.

I can only come to one conclusion, they have decided that VAR is the enemy of the referee, it is the tool that is calling their competency into question and therefore they are determined to show it is a hindrance and not a help.

I don't think that Premier league referee's are cheats, yes some of them seem to be overtly officious and like to be centre of attention these days, but they are honest, this is not cheating, it is manipulation of the VAR system, a work to rule if you like to restore power to the man in the middle.

I can only think it is this, I can't think of any other reason why suddenly professional referee's can spot a toenail behind the last defender and draw a line to prove it offside, but can't spot when a player has clearly played the ball.

Photo: Action Images



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WestSussexSaint added 16:11 - May 5
I think there are a number of factors at play here which all contrive to make VAR appear to be the enemy of football.

Firstly, you cannot blame VAR or the operators for the offside and handball decisions. It is the rules themselves which make the situation so frustrating. Offside in particular is a matter of fact and even an inch offside is still offside. I have heard calls for the armpit rule to be changed so that there is clear daylight between attacker and defender. Whether you agree with that or not it is a rule change and VAR will apply the new rule in the same way it does now.

Secondly are the decisions around interpretation of a foul for a penalty/ref card. In the main the decision should sit with the on field ref. He is closest to the action. VAR should only get involved where there is a clear error by the ref or an incident is missed completely. I think this is where current referees operating VAR are the issue. I don’t subscribe to the view by Nick that refs are deliberately trying to get VAR abandoned. That makes no sense as a modern top flight football has dozens of tv cameras anyway so their performance and mistakes will be highlighted regardless of whether VAR is there or not. However I do think there is a conflict of interest and a reluctance to “call out” an error by a colleague.

Like Nick I think VAR in general will benefit the sport as it has done in Rugby and Cricket for example but there needs to be a change in the operators and they must be completely independent of the referees and the PGMOL.
4

sandywelsh added 17:30 - May 5
I think it would be better if referees were not incharge of VAR. Ex-players or Ex- managers not of the 2 teams playing should be incharge of VAR. That sending off stopped us getting 3 points and decisions like that could cause a team to be relegated. Something needs to be done about it.
4

Ronnie added 18:20 - May 5
Something has to change so that those operating VAR feel more able to challenge the ref's decision. Following our appeal, the decision has now been made that it was not a red card, although they would have come to this decision using the same tv footage that we all saw and was available to the VAR team at the time. So why didn't they contact the ref and ask him to look at the TV screen at the time of the incident? If it is the wrong decision now, it was the wrong decision then. Our players, especially Bednarek, were telling the ref that JV got the ball first and to check with VAR, but he chose to ignore all that.
Also there should be some sort of compensation (not necessarily financial) to the team who have had a man wrongly sent off - it has now happened to us twice in a season and both times at very early stages in the game - We got one point from those games when we had the potential to get 6. Just removing the players match ban is simply not enough to rectify the mistake.
7

saintmark1976 added 18:58 - May 5
V A R together with the proposed Super League is the latest example of our game being ruined by the money men and T V. Genuine fans don’t want V A R in its present form but I doubt our views will be taken into account. It’s all down to what makes good TV for big business and making sure their subscribers continue to stump up.
-1

underweststand added 19:03 - May 5
I really looked forward to VAR (especially as It has been so successful in other sports) but the interpretation of the rules is weird. (Example: Handball) can hardly be justified if the defender cannot get out of the way when standing 6 feet away from the kicker, or is hit by a bouncing ball ,but the "natural position of the arm" sounds a more acceptable rule.
The ruling about offside position of "The Arm" needs clarification, as the arm is not a legal part of the body for scoring, and the position of "a player's sleeve is nonsense".

Being caught offside with your back to the goal is also dubious, and I have always wondered about the location of the ball (when kicked). Is the decision based of the instant that the kicker connects with the ball ...or, when it is first " in flight "? .

Vestergaard's red card was not justified as he clearly got to the ball before Vardy, but it was a probable yellow, (if you think the follow-through was a deliberate foul ).
Vardy's was too late for this years Oscar's but on current form it suggests he would have missed any sort of hot - even if he been able to get to the ball ahead of McCarthy.

Referees are rarely "on the spot " and rely on player's body language in order to decide.
We all watched this on TV, yet both refs. missed the real outcome.. and whatever happened to the Yellow card ruling for players diving? Replaying incidents in slow-motion can show the point of impact, but when both players were battling for the ball at 20mph, it isn't a good judgement of fault, or error. It always seems to me that BT and Sky get it right more often than VAR. A panel of "retired pros, refs and managers is better.

Being level is a good judgement. Djenepo's tackle in the Spurs game was ON the line of the penalty box ( a foul Yes), but given as a penalty whereas had it been on the goal line, it wouldn't have counted unless the whole of the ball was over the line.
Honestly speaking the things that annoy me most (and worth a yellow card) are ..those kicking the ball away, deliberate time-wasting, and defenders standing over the ball when the opposition is lining up a kick, and those refs who allow players free rein to foul throughout the entire match without ever drawing a yellow card from their pockets.

I won't use more space of " the conspiracy theory" that certain ref's are open to favourable decisions for home sides, or assist those who are fighting for "Top Four " places over midtable sides, to whom the loss of a point or two has little or no meaning .
RANT OVER !

1

NewburySaint added 19:41 - May 5
No, they’re not cheats, and I don’t believe they are doing it on purpose either, I just think it is simply we do not have a good set of officials at the top of our game, particularly for a country of our size’s standing in the football world in terms of our history, heritage, the number of pro clubs we have and because we apparently have the best domestic league in the world.

This is a view I have had for probably since the late 90’s through what I have witnessed. & I think it was rammed home even more when we got relegated to the Football League where, by and large, the referees were / are so much better-I always found / find it obscene that when a Prem ref has a bad game he gets “relegated” to the Football League for a game or so. Similarly when we played in the Europa League the refs we had then, bar Inter at home, were on another level to our lot in terms of being so much better & I don’t believe we had any of the more well known refs.

Also I think it was telling that in the last World Cup there wasn’t a single English official invited so the footballing world was / is starting to recognise that the quality of our top officials isn’t up to standard. (There are English officials appointed to this years Euros though)

But I echo the thoughts of others on here in that ex pro players should run VAR because they will certainly not have any loyalty to officials!
2

IanRC added 20:21 - May 5
Problem with the ex-players is that it will doubtless be ex-Liverpool and similar players who dominate - anyone fancy Lawrenson ...... Agree change is required but how to ensure independence.

Underwestand, can’t understand why football has not introduced the rugby rule of moving the free kick forward 10 metres if players don’t retreat promptly. Easy quick fix that I am sure all fans would welcome.
2

SaintPaulVW added 10:24 - May 6
Ironically the red on Friday was down to a poor decision by the ref. VAR then compounded this error by giving another incorrect decision.

The only purpose of VAR is to improve on field decisions. Unfortunately, it appears to have become some law makers' sand box. Red lines blue lines, can a ref be alerted...all just add more hairs to split in trying to get at the actual truth on which a decision can be made.

In its current form it is a failed experiment and needs to be withdrawn until fit for purpose.
3

PaleRider added 11:17 - May 6
Why do so many people assume that referees are neither cheats nor corrupt? With the aount of money swilling around the trough of football this is extremely naive. In my view the evidence is there to show that they are either:

cheats
corrupt
incompetent
or a mixture of all three.

Until we have a categoric answer, I am prepared to believe in all three.
-2

AirFlorida added 16:53 - May 6
I'm not complaining! Brilliant decision. It focused the players and for the first time in months they actually fought. I actually doubt we'd of got anything from the game with 11 players too as we'd of stuck to our normal plan A and Leicester would have picked us off, just waiting for our normal lapses in concentration. We should be thanking the ref/VAR team for making the team (and Ralph) realise that when it matters, we can fight for each other. This is the spirit we need to take into each of our last few games. Imagine if we had a full complement of outfield players performing like this, focused.. Imagine..
2

felly1 added 18:55 - May 6
I agree with AirFlorida
1


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