With the new season of the Premier League resuming this weekend, there has been changes to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) rules ahead of the 2020/2021 season.
The new season kicks off this weekend, with an early kickoff on Saturday, September 12 in a London Derby battle at the Craven Cottage; Fulham vs Arsenal (11:30GMT).
At the Premier League’s annual general meeting earlier last month, it was agreed that VAR would now be used in line with FIFA protocol.
This will result in slight differences:
Perhaps the biggest and most welcome change will see referees encouraged to use the pitch-side monitors more regularly instead of relying on a voice from Stockley Park, something that we did see more often towards the end of last season. Officially referred to as the Referee Review Area (RRA), the monitors will be employed for subjective decisions surrounding goals, red cards and penalties.
An official Premier League press released stated: “The [offside] protocol does not allow for tolerance levels.” That means there will be no real change to how offsides are judged and any ball-playing part of the body which is past the line of the last defender will be deemed offside, including a shoulder or a small portion of the foot.
FLAGGING FOR OFFSIDE
When an immediate goalscoring opportunity occurs, assistant referees will not raise their flag until the passage of play is over. When the attack has been completed, the official will then raise the flag if they deem the attacker to be offside. If a goal is scored, then that decision will be checked at VAR’s Stockley Park base.
PENALTIES (PLAYER ENCROACHMENT)
A player can now only be deemed as encroaching from a spot-kick if they have a direct impact on the ball (i.e. they clear it or tap in a rebound). Encroachment is also only judged on a player’s foot and whether it’s in, or on, the penalty area or arc line at the edge of the box.
PENALTIES (GOALKEEPER ENCROACHMENT)
Officials will be stricter in how they approach penalties and if a spot-kick is missed when a goalkeeper’s foot is off the line, VAR will order the penalty to be retaken. However, if a goalkeeper is off his line and the penalty hits the post or misses the target, it will not be ordered to be retaken.
TV COVERAGE COULD MAKE OFFSIDES LESS CONTROVERSIAL
Although the offside law won’t change, the decision to allow fans to see the process of how the VAR comes to a decision will be altered. The lines will still be drawn, and could potentially be broadcast later to back up a decision, but they are not set to be seen in real time.
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By: Kwabena Asante Marfo, KobbyKyeiSports