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VAR: What's Going Wrong?

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

VAR has once again been the talking point of this Premier League weekend, making critical errors which directly affected the results of at least two matches.


Both Arsenal and Brighton were victims of incorrect decisions, with the Gunners conceding a goal which should've been ruled out, and Brighton having a perfectly legitimate goal ruled out.

The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) have released separate statements apologising to the two clubs for the impact on their results.


These errors follow an independent report earlier in the season which revealed six incorrect interventions by VAR.


There were another six incidents where it should've intervened and didn't, all before the World Cup.

Including the two mistakes from this weekend, PGMOL has now admitted to eight critical errors this season, and seven of the incidents surrounded goals which either put a team level or gave them the lead.


What's more is that this doesn't even include potential penalties; as they could've been saved, they aren't classed as critical errors.


Dean Henderson and Lucas Digne are only included because the subsequent penalty was scored.


On top of these errors, there have been six incidents where VAR should've intervened but failed to do so.


There have been fairly clear-cut penalties for Newcastle, Arsenal and Chelsea this season that have all been ignored which may well be a part of that list.



For Monday's Merseyside Derby and Wednesday's title clash between Arsenal and Manchester City, VAR official John Brooks, who made the error at Selhurst Park, was replaced.


In reality, this isn't a long-term solution however, as referees drafted from the Championship haven't got experience working with VAR.


Lee Mason, who has been responsible for three of the eight errors this season on VAR, has reportedly been dropped as well.



Given the poor quality of officiating in the Premier League, it's difficult to find a solution.


Dropping current officials would only be beneficial if specific VAR officials were appointed.


This approach has been largely successful in European and International competitions by separating the roles of the referees and the VAR.


Doing this however would be a long-term solution, as training referees takes years. It would likely take a similar amount of time to train dedicated VAR officials.



Other options include drafting in officials from other countries.


Given the larger populations of footballing countries such as Germany and Japan, the Premier League should seriously consider employing international referees.


Jarred Gillet, a Premier League referee, moved across from Australia to referee in the EFL in 2019 before being promoted to the Premier League in 2021.



The Premier League has a responsibility to rectify the awful situation VAR is in at the moment.


It was introduced to improve clarity and correct wrong decisions.


This has been possible in Europe through the proper application of technology.


The problem is not the technology itself, it's simply the incompetence of the current Premier League officials.



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