sport news VAR will improve after Euro 2020 showed it works with a 'light touch'

sport news VAR will improve after Euro 2020 showed it works with a 'light touch'
sport news VAR will improve after Euro 2020 showed it works with a 'light touch'

Pressure is mounting on the Premier League to revise how it uses VAR after the 'light-touch' approach at Euro 2020 won widespread praise.

The head of Euro 2020 referees, Roberto Rosetti, and top flight clubs have effectively joined forces to demand a less interventionist approach in the coming season.

And the Premier League is well placed to make the change.

Five of the league's best officials, who all excelled at Euro 2020, are due to brief their colleagues when they return from holiday on how the championships got VAR right, while the top flight has been accused of getting it wrong.

Anthony Taylor (middle) excelled at Euro 2020 and can advise the top flight on use of VAR

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Anthony Taylor (middle) excelled at Euro 2020 and can advise the top flight on use of VAR

Last season, the role of the Video Assistant Referee in the Premier League was mired in controversy, with almost weekly inquests in the media and among clubs, players and fans into decisions and interventions.

In fact, things got so bad that a mid-season poll of fans found that almost half felt VAR was making the game less exciting and more than four out of ten thought it had made football worse.

And it wasn't just supporters, who were struggling. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish and Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne all spoke out about controversial decisions.

Jurgen Klopp concluded he 'doesn't understand these decisions' after VAR failed to review a challenge from Jordan Pickford that injured Virgil van Dijk in the Merseyside derby in October, and Jordan Henderson's late goal was ruled out for offside.

Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne admitted last season some VAR decisions were confusing

Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne admitted last season some VAR decisions were confusing

Jordan Pickford's lunge on Virgil Van Dijk has been highlighted as  another confusing decision

Jordan Pickford's lunge on Virgil Van Dijk has been highlighted as  another confusing decision

But at Euro 2020, the overwhelming perception of the standard of refereeing was positive and remarkably, given the English experience of the technology, VAR was seen as helpful, rather than dominant and distracting.

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Now, the Premier League has been challenged by Rosetti, the tournament's head of referees, to adopt a similar 'light-touch' approach, to avoid over analysis and unnecessary interventions. He wants officials to stick to the letter of the law and decisions only overturned where there are  'clear and obvious errors'.

In other words, on-field referees should be allowed to get on with the job.

So, what can fans expect in the season ahead? Are we destined for another year of endless VAR controversy and tedious TV debates over follow-throughs, handballs, and big-toe offsides?

The answer is no… and yes. At the very least, we can expect the situation to improve. And here's why.

Head of refereeing at Euro 2020, Roberto Rosetti, has called for 'light-touch' VAR

Head of refereeing at Euro 2020, Roberto Rosetti, has called for 'light-touch' VAR

The pressure for change is now irrististible

While UEFA's supreme referee, Rosetti, has not explicitly called out the English top flight, he dropped a heavy hint that it would benefit from a change of approach.

Speaking to journalists yesterday, Rosetti, 53, who works as a director of a hospital, praised articles calling for a 'light touch' in the English application of VAR.

Before adding diplomatically, 'What I hope is that this kind of use of this tool can continue all around Europe. We believe that the referees must always be at the centre of the decision and take decisions on the field of play.'

And Rosetti went further, claiming it is 'dangerous' for the VAR to over-analyse decisions.

Despite some controversial moments, including Italian referee Daniele Orsato giving a red card to Sweden's defender Marcus Danielsson (unssen) for a foul on Ukraine's forward Artem Besedin (unseen) during the round of 16, the officiating was praised in the tournament

Despite some controversial moments, including Italian referee Daniele Orsato giving a red card to Sweden's defender Marcus Danielsson (unssen) for a foul on Ukraine's forward Artem Besedin (unseen) during the round of 16, the officiating was praised in the tournament

'We don't want to investigate in all the small details,' he said. 'If we do, VAR can be dangerous if it is not used appropriately, and we saw this in some countries.'

The Italian believes that in super-slow-motion and on repeated viewing the normal rough and tumble of the game becomes a foul, when it is simply the natural interaction of a contact sport.

He said the maxim, 'minimum interference, maximum benefit', served the tournament well.

And it is not just UEFA who are demanding change, either.

Premier League clubs have also urged the top flight's chief executive, Richard Masters, to follow the example set at Euro 2020 and adopt a more measured approach to the use of the technology.

Premier League clubs have lobbied Richard Masters asking for lighter-touch VAR this season

Premier League clubs have lobbied Richard Masters asking for lighter-touch VAR this season

Top flight is open to change – and had five top refs at Euro 2020

So, there is pressure on the Premier League to reform how it uses VAR – but there is also a willingness to listen and a deep well of knowledge about Euro 2020 on which to draw.

Officials at Professional Game Match Officials Limited [PGMOL] have always said that the role of VAR will evolve and other sports, such as cricket and rugby, have found it takes years for new technology to bed in.

The Premier League is now perfectly positioned to learn from the Euro 2020 experience, since it had five top referees at the tournament, playing major roles.

Anthony Taylor, who won deserved praise for his management of the of Christian Eriksen collapse, and Michael Oliver both led on-field teams of English officials.

Premier League official Lee Betts was in the VAR hub at Euro 2020

And he was joined by top flight ref, Stuart Attwell

Premier League official Lee Betts (left) was a VAR at EURO 2020 with ref Stuart Attwell

In addition, Stuart Attwell, Chris Kavanagh and Lee Betts were VARs.

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