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Jamie Field looks at the controversial VAR (video assisted referee) process and how it can be improved for the good of the game.

VAR is a system which needs to undergo many changes, this much is evident. In theory, the offside rule is a valid and practical rule which could significantly aid the decision-making process for a referee. However, the execution, in my opinion, is less than favourable.

In order to fairly judge this rule, I must highlight an example from the 2020/2021 season. This is the point where I believe that VAR was in its worst form – specifically during a match between Leeds United and Crystal Palace. The match finished 4-1 to Palace, though that doesn’t tell the whole story. Early in the first half, Patrick Bamford scored a goal for Leeds, which was ruled out for being offside.

The ‘offside’ wasn’t controversial due to it being a marginal decision. It was controversial because the body part that was offside was Bamford’s arm. The rules of football make it obscenely clear that an outfield player cannot use their arm to play the ball, so why should it matter if an arm is offside?

In terms of a solution, I suggest one thing: get rid of the lines drawn which determine the offside. If the offence is not evident enough to see with the naked eye, it is not evident enough to warrant the goal being disallowed. Also, remind the officials in the VAR room that players cannot score with their arm.

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April 2024