Premier League owns up to refereeing mistakes, even with VAR
LONDON – The Premier League is finally owning up to refereeing mistakes – thanks to the technology that was supposed to cut down on them.
Uncertainty about the application of VAR in the opening month of the season has left teams confused as to why wrong decisions have not been overturned in games.
It turns out at least four of them should have been corrected after being reviewed on video. Some managers would add other disputed calls to that list, but the candor by referees' head Mike Riley is a starting point for a league that has hardly ever acknowledged mistakes by its officials.
"Where we have made mistakes we have to learn from them," Riley said after presenting to clubs on Thursday. "There are things we can learn and constantly improve."
Penalties should have been awarded to Manchester City's David Silva and West Ham's Sebastien Haller in separate games, Riley said. The decision of the VAR to not overturn the initial on-pitch calls did not have an impact on the results because City went on to beat Bournemouth and West Ham defeated Norwich.
But Riley also acknowledged that Fabian Schar's equalizer for Newcastle wrongly stood against Watford despite a handball by a teammate. And Leicester should have had Youri Tielemens sent off for a stamp on Callum Wilson in a victory over Bournemouth.
"There were a variety of factors for the decisions that were made," Riley said. "One was a judgment decision. Another was a process mistake. On the two others we were trying to protect the high bar and not disrupt the flow of the game."
Of 227 checks of decisions in the 40 games across the first four rounds, six decisions have been changed on the assessment by the VAR.
"As we expected when we introduced VAR at the start of the season we are learning as we are going along and working out how things can be improved," Riley said. "The advice led to better decisions. But we accept that there were four occasions where the VAR didn't intervene and where, if they had, there would be a better understanding of the role VAR plays.
"What we will do is discuss with the clubs, managers and players to agree that we could have intervened to the benefit of the game."
Unlike in many other competitions, referees have not been going over to view the pitch-side monitors available to review incidents themselves. That is unlikely to change when the league resumes after the international break, starting Saturday lunchtime with leader Liverpool hosting Newcastle.
"If an incident took place outside of what would be the normal range of expectations, normally something off the ball, the referee could go to the monitor and help explain his decision to the players," Riley said. "The referee has always been able to go to look at the monitor if that's what he chooses to do.
"But we do not want to impact the speed and flow of the game. It can save maybe extra two and a half minutes if the referee does not go to the monitor but for those events outside expectations they can go and look."