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30 Dec, 2019 16:45

No more offside by an armpit: Football lawmakers to issue VAR guidance amid claims technology is ‘killing the game’

No more offside by an armpit: Football lawmakers to issue VAR guidance amid claims technology is ‘killing the game’

Football lawmakers will clarify the use of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) after a spate of offside decisions which have left fans – particularly in the English Premier League – fuming that the technology is ruining football.

The last round of Premier League games saw yet another litany of contentious VAR decisions, specifically over goals being ruled out for offside.

Wolverhampton Wanderers had a goal disallowed against league leaders Liverpool for a wafer-thin offside decision, while Sheffield United also had a goal chalked off against Manchester City in another tight offside call.

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Football fans and pundits have raged that players are being given offside by the length of an armpit or toenail, while the length of time taken to agonize over decisions with video officials at the Premier League’s Stockley Park hub in west London has caused consternation.

Other concerns are over a lack of real-time consultation with fans regarding VAR decisions.

Amid the uproar, officials at the International Football Association Board (IFAB) – which governs the game’s rules – have suggested that Premier League has not been using the technology as intended by going over offsides with such minute scrutiny.

Instead, they reiterated that the “clear and obvious errors” principle should be applied more rigorously.

"Clear and obvious still remains – it's an important principle [of VAR]. There should not be a lot of time spent to find something marginal," IFAB general secretary Lukas Brud told the PA.

"If something is not clear on the first sight, then it's not obvious and it shouldn't be considered.

“Looking at one camera angle is one thing but looking at 15, trying to find something that was potentially not even there, this was not the idea of the VAR principle. It should be clear and obvious."

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Brud said that this would be included in IFAB’s next update after its annual general meeting in February, stressing that it was not a change to the rules, but rather a reminder.

Whether the clarification eases fans’ fears over the technology remains to be seen, with a backlash against dozens of offside decisions in England’s top tier this season.

Prominent pundits, including the likes of BBC presenter Gary Lineker, have said VAR is killing the game as we know it.

Arsenal fan Piers Morgan tweeted “RIP Football. Killed by VAR,” after the decision to rule out Jonny’s equalizer for Wolves against Liverpool on Sunday.