The VAR Review: Handball inconsistency and should Wolves have had a Liverpool penalty? – Ghana Latest Football News, Live Scores, Results

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) sparks controversy every week in the Premier League, but how are decisions made and are they correct?

After each weekend, we look at the most high-profile incidents and review the process both in terms of VAR protocol and the Laws of the Game.

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Arsenal 5-1 Everton

Reversal of VAR: Penalty for handball by Iwobi

What happened: It was scoreless when Everton’s Alex Iwobi blocked a shot from Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli, who immediately called for the handball.

VAR Decision: Handball against Iwobi, with the penalty scored by Martinelli.

VAR review: It goes back to how handball is judged after the law was changed to a point on the upper arm, rather than the armpit. This made judging a handball offense much more difficult and sometimes inconsistent.

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We can look at a number of incidents this season, with the ball hitting the arm in the same spot. It depends on the subjective opinion of VAR, in this case Lee Mason, whether the ball hit above or below the point of a handball foul.

For example, for a throw-in, the entire ball must be across the line. But for a handball foul, does the entire ball have to be above the imaginary position on the arm for it to be a handball foul? It remains unclear, but in the Premier League referees try to use the ball hitting the sponsor’s badge or logo as not an offense – but it’s still up to VAR making that call.

As for Iwobi, he’s leaned into the shot and the contact on the arm looks low enough for a penalty to be a correct VAR decision. But that doesn’t mean it’s consistent with some past instances where handball was not given. And Everton know it all too well.

Alex Iwobi conceded a penalty for handball at Arsenal. BBC

In February, Frank Lampard’s side were denied a penalty by VAR Chris Kavanagh for a Rodri handball. The score was 1-0 for Manchester City late in the game, meaning Everton were denied the chance to claim a point from the penalty spot. Kavanagh ruled that other available angles made the evidence inconclusive, but that led PGMOL, the body that controls refereeing in the Premier League, to apologize to Everton for the error.

Everton weren’t awarded a penalty for Man City’s Rodri handball. Everton

One problem has been the referees swayed by previous VAR decisions, rather than the evidence coming forward. Just 13 days before Rodri’s decision, Kavanagh was also the VAR when he ruled there was no conclusive evidence that Craig Dawson had committed a handball offense by scoring a late equalizer in a game West Ham United drew 2-2 at Leicester City.

This objective should, on the whole, have been rejected. Also in this case, Kavanagh had found another angle that questioned a VAR intervention, so he let the goal stand. It is highly likely that this decision influenced Kavanagh when the Rodri decision came around.

The same VAR, Chris Kavanagh, allowed Craig Dawson’s goal to stand with a similar possible offside. ESPN

Iwobi, Rodri and Dawson should all have been considered handball fouls. It boils down to an inconsistency in VAR decision-making, which will always be apparent to some degree due to the subjective nature of the decisions. However, it appears the Premier League’s ‘high threshold’ for interventions – along with a clear reluctance by referees to dismiss notices on the monitor – is a barrier to greater consistency.

At least when it came to Sunday’s other VAR penalty, given to Newcastle United at Burnley, there was absolutely no doubt that Nathan Collins had committed a handball infraction.

There was absolutely no doubt about the VAR penalty given to Nathan Collins. BBC Liverpool 3-1 Wolves

Possible penalty: Foul by Konaté on Gomes

What happened: With the scores locked at 1-1 just after half-time, Wolves’ Rayan Ait-Nouri kicked a free kick into the box which Tote Gomes tried to get at the end but appeared to be pushed away by the defender of Liverpool Ibrahima Konate.

VAR Decision: VAR Stuart Attwell decided there was not enough to the incident to consider it a clear and obvious mistake by referee Anthony Taylor.

VAR review: There was a clear use of the shoulder by Konate behind the Wolverhampton Wanderers player’s back, and there is no doubt the penalty would have stood had it been awarded by the referee.

Many fans will believe this should have been a VAR penalty for Wolves, and perhaps if Liverpool had won the title ahead of Man City, the incident would have drawn more attention. It’s also possible that Konaté was sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity.

Ibrahima Konaté appeared to burst from the back of Tote Gomes. NBC

We’ve talked about past incidents influencing referees in the VAR room and that might just fit here too, in terms of applying a high threshold for a knockdown.

Attwell was on VAR last Tuesday when Southampton’s goal was cleared against Liverpool. Again, it wasn’t seen as a clear and obvious mistake to disallow that goal after what looked like a certain foul in Lyanco’s build-up on Diogo Jota.

At least you can say that the threshold is constantly high, but few would accept that it is always correct in these two cases. One against Liverpool, the other in their favour.

In both cases, the referee had a clear view of the incident, with a factor contributing to the decision on the field remaining unchanged.

Leicester 4-1 Southampton

What happened: It was scoreless when Jamie Vardy suffered an injury in midfield as Southampton had the ball. Referee Jon Moss gave the drop ball to Leicester City, and the Foxes scored directly from it through James Maddison.

VAR Decision: The VAR is unable to intervene.

VAR review: This is purely a refereeing error by Moss, who was dealing with his last game before retiring. As Southampton were in control of the ball when play stopped, it should have been returned to them.

However, Moss appeared to get confused as it was a Leicester player who was injured and gave the ball away to the home side.

Southampton were in control of the ball when play was stopped for an injury to Jamie Vardy. BBC

But VAR are unable to intervene on any type of restart (other than a penalty), which includes the ball going out of the quadrant on a corner kick or a foul. So, even if the referee has made an obvious error, the goal must stand.

Meanwhile, the penalty given to Southampton was not overturned as there was no clear and obvious error by the referee. Youri Tielemans kicked a leg out and although the contact largely came from Stuart Armstrong’s running momentum, it wouldn’t be considered a mistake by VAR.

Stuart Armstrong falls under the challenge of Youri Tielemans. BBCBrentford 1-2 Leeds United

VAR reversal: Goal by Gelhardt canceled for offside

What happened: Joe Gelhardt thought he had given Leeds United the lead at Brentford as the score was 0-0.

VAR Decision: Offside, goal disallowed.

VAR review: One of the easiest offside decisions for VAR, which was John Brooks. From the first angle shown in the TV coverage, you could see it was likely Gelhardt was ahead of the final defender.

Joe Gelhardt looked offside from the first sight. BBC

Some fans had questioned the use of a different angle to view the decision, saying the camera was not square to the players. But it’s a common misconception about how Hawk-Eye offside technology works. Regardless of the camera used, the technology is mapped to the terrain and this takes into account the angle. That said, in this case it was perhaps obvious from the first angle which one the VAR chose to use to enforce the lines.

The VAR lines have been displayed from a different angle to show Gelhardt offside. BBC

Information provided by the Premier League and PGMOL has been used in this story.


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