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EPL makes key VAR changes ahead of new season

Premier League to make key VAR changes ahead of 2021/2022 season

August 3, 2021 By Emmanuel K. Budu-Annor
Trivial things will not be penalised anymore as part of the amendments.

Following massive backlash from fans last season, the English Premier League is set to implement a new directive to improve the use of the Video Assistant Refree in matches. The Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) are introducing a few changes that would eliminating the penalisation of trivial things that ruined games in seasons past.

In 2019, VAR was introduced to the Premier League to deal with "clear and obvious errors" in relation to goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. However, these have not gone down well over the last two season with every game week coming with one controversy or the other that has the technology at its center. 

Last summer, the changes that were made included referees using pitchside monitors more, as well as the assistant referees keeping their flags down on tight offside decision that may affect a goalscoring opportunity. Needless to say, these arrangements have rather slowed down games and often result in clubs being penalised for trivial things. 

The need for the new directives is as a result of the success of VAR seen at the recently held Euro 2020. According to the Premier League's head of refereeing, Mike Riley, three key changes in relation to handballs, contact for penalties and close offside calls that result in goals being overtuned will be looked at. The lines that were displayed for viewers to see how conclusive offside decisions were arrived at will also not be shown anymore.

"Fundamentally, we want the approach to be one that allows players to go out and express themselves and let the game flow," Riley said as per Sky Sports.

"It means the VAR teams will not intervene for trivial offences and the threshold for referee and VAR intervention will be slightly higher than it was last season.

"We've introduced the benefit of the doubt for the attacking player so where we have a really close offside situation, we will follow the same process as last year but now apply thicker broadcast lines.

"Effectively what we have done is given back 20 goals to the game that were deemed offside last season by using quite forensic scrutiny, he added.

"So it's the toenails, the noses of players that were offside - they won't be offside now."

On the subject of contacts that result in penalties being given, Riley said: "Contact on its own is only one element the referee should look for.

"If you have clear contact, that has a consequence, it's a foul but if you have any doubts, in these elements they are unlikely to be penalised.

"You also want it to be a proper foul and not the slightest contact that someone has used to go over to get a penalty."

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