"I don't want matches to be interrupted more often than they are now"
In the near future, a truly revolutionary change may be made to the set of football rules. According to The Times, the International Council of Football Associations (IFAB) will hold a meeting on November 28 in London to discuss this issue.
The body was invited to consider the possibility of giving VAR referees the right to consider episodes with the assignment of free kicks and corners, as well as the demonstration of second yellow cards. Earlier, the working meeting was announced by FA Executive Director and IFAB Board Member Mark Bullingham.
"I think we will discuss this issue. We would very much not like the matches to be interrupted more often than now," the publication quotes the functionary.
At the same time, it is noted that the final decision can only be made in March 2024 at the annual meeting of the organization. It consists of four British associations, each with one vote, and FIFA, with four. In order to make certain changes, you need to dial six.
In the world of football, it is natural to worry that if the powers of the system are expanded, there will be even more pauses in the games. For example, this point of view was expressed by former Premier League referee Peter Walton, who was a member of the VAR working group even before its introduction.
"We wanted to reduce everything to clear and unambiguous violations that the judges did not see or about which they were mistaken. Now some are guided by the system in order to always make the right verdicts. But that's not what it was created for, and it's designed for occasions like Diego Maradona's The Hand of God. I would not like the powers to be expanded, since football is a subjective matter," the expert said.
In addition, the IFAB will consider a proposal to show direct red cards to offenders for intentional handball in their own penalty area and a ban on approaching referees by all athletes except captains.
Scandal in the Champions League semi-finals and erroneous sending off in an RPL match
Going back to VAR, it was first used at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. The following year, the innovation worked at the 2018 World Cup, and in the 2018/19 season, it came to the aid of referees in Champions League matches, starting from the playoff stage. At the end of 2018, the use of the system in the RPL was approved.
However, at present, the scope of its powers is quite narrow. Colleagues at VAR can only give advice to the boss in a few cases: in episodes with goals scored, in moments with or without awarding a penalty, as well as in situations where the referee should show a direct red card or he showed it to the wrong person.
Thus, in some controversial moments, specialists at the monitors simply do not have the right to express their opinion. Sometimes this leads to high-profile scandals.
For example, Kevin De Bruyne's goal against Real Madrid in the first semi-final match of the Champions League last season (1:1) caused serious controversy. The Manchester City player unleashed a powerful shot from outside the penalty area, which Thibaut Courtois failed. However, it was clear that in the course of an effective attack, the ball went over the sideline.
After Kyle Walker's pass, Bernardo Silva got him from behind the line. The Citizens retained possession and De Bruyne delivered a cross from the flank. The opponents made an interception, but Eduardo Camavinga made an inaccurate pass, and the English team immediately took advantage of it and equalized the score. Disgruntled Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti tried to prove to the referee that he should have awarded a throw-in, but received only a yellow.
VAR did not intervene and the goal counted. According to Arsène Wenger, who is currently FIFA's head of global football development and sits on the IFAB's rules change committees, the referees at the monitors should have corrected the blot, but they simply could not go that far when watching the replay. The Frenchman believes that in such situations, assistants are obliged to correct the verdict of colleagues and prompt them.
Unfortunately, there are similar scandals in the RPL. In May, Evgeny Kukulyak's decision to show the second yellow card to Spartak defender Daniil Denisov for a foul on Khimki midfielder Janiu Bicquele caused a serious resonance. On the replay, it was clearly seen that the red-and-white player, playing in a tackle, did not even touch the opponent.
As a result, the Muscovites sensationally lost points, and their indignation knew no bounds. A frustrated Guillermo Abascal finished the press conference in 40 seconds.
Some fans wondered why Kukulyak, who made an obvious mistake, was not helped by his colleagues at VAR. However, the RFU later confirmed that they could not do this.
"Hopefully, over time, FIFA and IFAB will allow VAR to review yellow cards so that they can correct the mistakes made by the referees when they are not able to correctly assess the actions of the players. The recommendation of the refereeing department is that in case of any non-obvious fouls, the lineups should be kept equal and the second yellow cards should not be taken," Match TV quotes the head of the refereeing department Pavel Kamantsev.
Spartak found themselves in a similar situation this season. At the end of the first half of the meeting with Rubin in the third round of the RPL, Kazan earned a dangerous set-piece. It seemed that Ruslan Litvinov brought down Marat Apshatsev in a tackle. But it quickly became clear that the defender reached for the ball and did not violate the rules. However, VAR had no right to intervene in this episode either, since the foul occurred outside the penalty area. As a result, after the rally, Ugochukwu Yiwu equalized. Fortunately, in the second half, the ten-time champions of Russia finished off the opponent, and no one remembered about the referee's blot.
At the same time, there is a fear that if the rules are changed, the matches will be even more delayed. For example, in December 2019, Vasily Kazartsev spent about 15 minutes watching three replays in the confrontation between Krasnodar and CSKA.
Over time, referees have learned to make decisions more quickly, but this still does not save from long pauses. So, in the second half of the recent meeting between Krylia Sovetov and Lokomotiv, the players played almost 13 minutes. And the decisive goal from the penalty spot in the 102nd was scored by Benjamín Garré. It is symbolic that this goal turned out to be the latest in the history of the Premier League.
"The players will have to stay on the pitch even longer"
RT experts are divided on the possible expansion of VAR's powers. Former RPL referee Igor Egorov complained that if this innovation is adopted, it will negatively affect the pace of the game.
"Unfortunately, no one is interested in how long the match drags on. Everyone wants to reduce the risk of referees making mistakes. Such changes to the rules are made for this purpose. They are trying to make sure that colleagues at VAR can help the main one in the maximum number of controversial episodes. Sometimes it gets to the point of absurdity. The referee incorrectly awards a corner, and after it is played, the team scores. Then they start talking again, like, why do we need VAR if his powers are narrow. This is an attempt to make life easier for the judge," the specialist explained.
At the same time, he considers the very introduction of the system in football a big mistake, which killed the spirit of the game and excluded from it an important human factor in the form of refereeing shortcomings.
"Of course, the players will have to stay on the pitch even longer. Remember the World Cup in Qatar, where ten minutes were added, also because of long replays of <... >But now it should be taken for granted. Similar processes take place in all sports," Egorov added.
But the well-known coach Alexander Grishin, on the contrary, is sure that the introduction of changes will have a positive impact on football and will only benefit the referee.
"I'm in favor of keeping the game fair. Once a violation is committed, the player must be punished <... > After all, VAR helps to avoid mistakes, so you should use the possibilities of technology as much as possible. Now it's hard to imagine that not so long ago the referees made a lot of mistakes, and nothing could be done about it. But even now there are still controversial episodes, when, for example, a foul occurs outside the penalty area, and the VAR assistants have no right to intervene," the coach stressed.
At the same time, he urged the referee to study the replays as soon as possible, especially in Russia, so as not to delay the meetings.
"I don't want them to go any longer. In this regard, we should follow the example of Europe. There, when the VAR referee records a violation, the chief does not even come to the monitor, but, trusting his colleague, immediately makes a decision. In our country, the replay is watched for ten minutes, although the episodes are obvious. Yes, you don't even have to go to the monitor. In my opinion, the verdict should be made in 10-15 seconds," Grishin summed up.