Soccer

Premier League to make VAR lines thicker after widespread criticism of the system

Following 2 seasons of controversy behind the “Video Assistant Referee,” the league finally decided to mend the flawed system. UEFA already made this change in European competitions, where VAR is not nearly as controversial as it is in the English game.

The decision comes after a whopping 128 VAR calls affected matches around the league. In the majority of these calls, thin lines often determined whether players lied offsides or not. This led to a combined 76 goals either being allowed or disallowed after review.

With thicker lines, the league hopes that attackers have more leeway in offsides calls. According to the league, this is an effort to reduce the fact that centimeters could change a match at times.

Many instances of VAR usage drew controversy for slim margins that disallowed goals that would have stood just a few years ago before the replay system’s inaugural season.

Some notable cases include Patrick Bamford’s disallowed goal for Leeds and Sadio Mane’s disallowed goal for Liverpool.

In Bamford’s case, he extended his arm to call for a pass, and despite his legs being behind the last defender, his hand broke the plane set by VAR. In the end, his goal didn’t stand, and Leeds lost the game. Fans pointed out his arm offered no advantage over the defenders.

Mane’s may be even more shocking as he looked perfectly even with the defensive line. After review, officials called Mane’s shoulder offsides, and his game-winning goal was overturned. The controversy behind this decision evolved into outrage as mere centimeters affected the outcome of the match. The match was a turning point in Liverpool’s title challenge as a potential 3 points turned into just 1.

Many grew critical of the system, which debuted in the 2019-2020 season. At first, VAR seemed to help the game. At its core, it finally allowed a replay system to feature in soccer. Until its introduction, replay reviews were a foreign concept in the sport.

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