The Referee Blog
The truth and the camera angle. Lessons from VAR reviews in Euro 2020 …
Soccer is a game full of passion. On the international scene the passion becomes more pronounced. The players, the coaches, and the fans believe they know the Laws of the Game. In the past the Referee crew alone was tasked with making decisions about violations of the Laws. Today, there is a support group for the on-field officials, the Video Assistant Review team (VAR). Technology assists the Referees to ensure that every factor is considered in making decisions. How did you feel about the VAR decisions in the group play of the 202 Euro Championship tournament?
There were a number of VAR corrections during the Group stage. They included:
•Offsides where a goal was disallowed – 4
•Offsides where the goal was confirmed as legal – 2
•Handball where a goal was disallowed – 1
•Penalty kicks for fouls and/or handballs – 5
Let’s look at one of the decisions that resulted in the award of a Penalty Kick. To call the Penalty Kick, there must be a foul committed by the defender against an attacker in their own Penalty Area. The picture confirms that all the factors are present. The correct decision was the Penalty Kick.
Technology and the teamwork of the on-field and in-booth officials increases the odds of getting close and tough decisions more correct. If you listened to the announcers and their Referee expert, they were surprised with some of the decisions (i.e., they disagreed initially). The final video evidence erased that doubt in most of the incidents, but not in every incident.
The good news for our sport is that technology is being used at the highest levels of competition to create a higher percentage of “accurate” decisions. The bad news for us at Heartland is that this technology will not be available for your team’s matches. Our technology at Heartland is the Referee team on the field. And, in many cases, the Referee team will be young and in learning mode. The bottom line is that they will probably miss a call or two during your matches.
The culture at Heartland seems to be that anyone has the right to question the Referee’s decision. Most of the time the aim is to get the Referee to change his/her call to the advantage of the team we are rooting for. We know that Referees hardly ever change their call. What effect does your complaining have on the Referee? Will it cause them to become concerned about your reaction and decide that the easiest course of action is to NOT make calls? This does not benefit the game or the players.
What could you do if you have major disagreements about the decisions of the Referee? I would recommend that the best course of action would be to share your thoughts with your coach. If he saw it different than what you saw, we can all learn. And, if he agrees, we encourage the coach to provide input to the Referee Development group (we have provided the coaches with feedback forms that are reviewed each week). In this way we can work with your Referees to help them understand how to be more effective with their decisions. This will move us forward in providing the best environment for successful soccer at Heartland.
Please accept this challenge to modify our behavior. If we continue to complain to the Referees on the field from the sidelines, we will continue to chase them away and will always have new and less experienced officials
Challenging Referee calls is a part of the global soccer culture. It happens at every level of competition. We need more Referees. The ways to increase our numbers are simple. We certify new Referees and retain those who are already certified. And yes, we will continue to train them to make more correct decisions more of the time. But they must come back.