MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Football’s rule-making-body IFAB will not police the way VAR (video assistant referees) is implemented in different leagues, despite continued controversy over the use of the technology in the Premier League.
Speaking to Reuters, IFAB secretary Lukas Brud said the organisation is working on current or future VAR usage with over 100 competitions and is not focused on the Premier League.
However, Brud repeated his view that VAR should only be used in cases where a “clear and obvious” error has been identified and should not “try to find something that might not be there”.
Brud also said the organisation has no plans to change the offside law, a change which some pundits have called for in response to the controversy over marginal offside decisions which have been a feature in the first season of VAR use in the Premier League.
Zurich-based IFAB, the International Football Association Board, is made up of five members: the four British football associations: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales as well as FIFA which represents other federations.
IFAB will hold its Annual General Meeting in Belfast on Feb. 29 which has led to speculation that it may act over the use of VAR in the Premier League.
But Brud said the body was constantly working with different competitions through its Implementation Assistance and Approval Programme (IAAP) and was not in the business of “punishing” bodies.
IFAB can withdraw permission to use the system but Brud said that there was leeway for competitions to have different interpretations of the guidelines over the use of VARs.
“Of course it is a requirement to follow the laws of the game and the VAR protocol. Competitions may apply some elements of it in a slightly different way but still within the Laws and protocol framework. We work together to try to make it work better,” Brud said.
“We are not the police, we cannot be the police. We will be issuing guidelines on the use of VAR as we do on a regular basis.
“That has nothing to do with the Premier League. In cooperation with FIFA, we are currently working with around 90 countries, over 100 competitions around the globe, our focus is certainly not on the Premier League, just because there are some media debates about VAR in the Premier League.”
While acknowledging that the technology used to determine offside decisions by VAR is not accurate enough to identify millimetre calls, Brud said that did not mean the offside law needed to be changed.
“We don’t think it is time (to change the law). What we need to do is focus on the training and education and ensure that the consistency and application of the VAR/offside law is being done properly,” he said, rejecting the suggestions for the law to reflect ‘clear daylight’ or other changes.
“We cannot make it subjective. With offside, the problem we have is that you are either offside or you are not.
“We need to remind people of principles. If the original decision cannot be overturned with 100 percent certainty – leave it as it is.”
He added that VAR officials were not supposed to spend a long time examining on-field decisions.
“VARs should not be spending a lot of time looking at an incident that on the first or second sight doesn’t show clear and obvious evidence that the original decision was wrong,” he said.
The IFAB official said other leagues who adopted VAR prior to the Premier League had overcome their initial issues.
“With more experience and more understanding, those decisions are not being questioned anymore,” he said.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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