Refs & VAR 2020/2021 Discussion

Moonwalker

Full Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
Messages
3,510
Sigh.. here I go.

The Luke Shaw decision is something that has been bothering me and something I have been sensing in the undercurrent of the VAR wave that hasn't been explored yet. I'm going to try to put it into words.

Lets first look at what happened: Luke shaw went for a 50-50 with the Burnley player, got some of the ball, and the ref who was in full view of it, did not deem it to be a foul.
Then he looks at it in slo-mo and thinks, "Hang on! I see studs coming to contact with leg. Therefore, it is a possible red card offense!".

There seems to be an assumption that looking at an incident in slow motion is necessary for the referee to make a decision. It seems sensible on the face of it. If you see something happening slowly, you have more time to process whats happening and parse through what actually happened with all the knowledge possible. HOWEVER, what seems to be never really discussed and factored into the VAR protocols is that there's a ton of very relevant information lost when we watch an incident like that in slow motion. Things like "momentum" and "speed of action" are very important in determining things like "excessive force" or "potential to cause injury". So when the referee looks at the slo-mo especially with the additional emphasis on the frame where the studs meet the leg, he basically had no choice under the rules but to say its a at least a possible red card offense. Whereas in real time, he saw that as soon as Shaw got the ball he pulled out of the challenge and while the studs did meet the leg, the potential to cause injury was not as extreme as it looks.

Note here that Shaw did NOT get a red card!

Why? Because the ref knows instinctively the tackle was not that dangerous and not worthy of a red. However, by the letter of the law it really should have been a red. (I have seen Shaka Hislop of ESPN FC, among others, argue just that).

So, what are the bigger implication of this?

I think all in all, Kevin Friend probably did the right thing. However, he's getting shit on by everybody for it both ways. And therefore, I think this is an unsustainable situation. Either we take this seriously and properly contextualize the use of slow motion replays on VAR, or we risk falling to the opposite extreme where over time literally any contact between studs on player regardless of context would be red card.

I dunno, maybe people think thats for the better, but I would argue it would make football a lot more methodical, and a lot less fun.

TLDR: slo-mo replays are paradoxically less accurate depictions of an incident and should be used with care in VAR
The implication here is that he only watches the slow motion, as if parachuted from Neverland or something, having experienced a total recall. Were that the only thing available to him, fears of information loss would be much more understandable.

What I would hope he actually does is to just use the slow motion as the supplement piece of the jigsaw in retention. He would have seen the incident in real time just a couple of minutes ago and surely still remembers things like speed and momentum. He then just adds the zoomed in, slow motion information, and then tries to reconstruct the incident in his head.
 

Ole's screen

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Oct 18, 2020
Messages
36
Location
Right next to Ole’s seat
Supports
KC Chiefs
The implication here is that he only watches the slow motion, as if parachuted from Neverland or something, having experienced a total recall. Were that the only thing available to him, fears of information loss would be much more understandable.

What I would hope he actually does is to just use the slow motion as the supplement piece of the jigsaw in retention. He would have seen the incident in real time just a couple of minutes ago and surely still remembers things like speed and momentum. He then just adds the zoomed in, slow motion information, and then tries to reconstruct the incident in his head.
I did say that I thought Friend did the right thing in the end. And maybe you're right and this is not going to be an issue, and I hope you are. But I think unless as the idea of "slo-mo being inaccurate" catches on in the zeitgeist and normal discussion and while clowns like Jaime Redknapp can just say uncontested "You just wanna see consistency, you could see it given", then I fear we slide almost uncontested more and more into that territory.

Think how much more sanitized the game has become compared to 15 years ago already. It's gone from "two footers - straight red" to "studs showing - straight red" to "he got the ball but his follow through was a bit high - possible red". My point is that, nobody explicitly makes the point that just because there's contact - it's not wrong or illegal or dangerous or a foul. This is the reason why diving is such a big problem too, by the way - because refs give penalties when players go down and there's contact - often forgetting about the bigger picture as you say.

My point may even be less about VAR and its technical application and more about the way the refs talk about it and the way it is covered by the media. For example, did you know the whole "clear and obvious" never even enters into the discussion during a VAR check? Yet everyone covering the game from the pundits to even former refs seem completely obsessed with it after every VAR referral.

PS: An additional point, How routinely do you now see a perfectly good tackle called a foul for basically no reason other than it looked dangerous? Two people flying towards each other with full intent to get there first will always look dangerous!
 
Last edited:

MikeKing

Full Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
4,541
Supports
Bournemouth
Sigh.. here I go.

The Luke Shaw decision is something that has been bothering me and something I have been sensing in the undercurrent of the VAR wave that hasn't been explored yet. I'm going to try to put it into words.

Lets first look at what happened: Luke shaw went for a 50-50 with the Burnley player, got some of the ball, and the ref who was in full view of it, did not deem it to be a foul.
Then he looks at it in slo-mo and thinks, "Hang on! I see studs coming to contact with leg. Therefore, it is a possible red card offense!".

There seems to be an assumption that looking at an incident in slow motion is necessary for the referee to make a decision. It seems sensible on the face of it. If you see something happening slowly, you have more time to process whats happening and parse through what actually happened with all the knowledge possible. HOWEVER, what seems to be never really discussed and factored into the VAR protocols is that there's a ton of very relevant information lost when we watch an incident like that in slow motion. Things like "momentum" and "speed of action" are very important in determining things like "excessive force" or "potential to cause injury". So when the referee looks at the slo-mo especially with the additional emphasis on the frame where the studs meet the leg, he basically had no choice under the rules but to say its a at least a possible red card offense. Whereas in real time, he saw that as soon as Shaw got the ball he pulled out of the challenge and while the studs did meet the leg, the potential to cause injury was not as extreme as it looks.

Note here that Shaw did NOT get a red card!

Why? Because the ref knows instinctively the tackle was not that dangerous and not worthy of a red. However, by the letter of the law it really should have been a red. (I have seen Shaka Hislop of ESPN FC, among others, argue just that).

So, what are the bigger implication of this?

I think all in all, Kevin Friend probably did the right thing. However, he's getting shit on by everybody for it both ways. And therefore, I think this is an unsustainable situation. Either we take this seriously and properly contextualize the use of slow motion replays on VAR, or we risk falling to the opposite extreme where over time literally any contact between studs on player regardless of context would be red card.

I dunno, maybe people think thats for the better, but I would argue it would make football a lot more methodical, and a lot less fun.

TLDR: slo-mo replays are paradoxically less accurate depictions of an incident and should be used with care in VAR
The two main problems is the refs. Their training, their fitness and ability to apply rules.
The other problem is the rulebook itself, but much of this can be worked on by re-training refs or get new refs that can handle assistance of technology.

Football has developed a lot over the years, the Premier League too, never has there been so much money as now but sometimes you get the feeling that the overwhelming lack of changes in this singular department feels suspicious and makes the average viewer question the integrity of the league. I think we've all had those thoughts at some point, no matter which club you root for.

I think we're on the right track with VAR but it's the same refs sitting in the VAR room that is running around on the pitch doing what they've always done as they have been trained to make interesting decisions for the PL rather of managing the game with personal integrity to the profession and upholding the actual rules.

There should be people specialised to supervise and be in charge of all decisions made in the VAR-room. They should create a blueprint of clearly defined standards for how to deal with difficult situations and train the refs hard to know how to apply those standards to the bone when in doubt. It would clarify a lot of the mess VAR has revealed that exists in the rules, and create more consistency which is what we want. A rule may not be perfect, we all may not agree with it but as long as it's clearly defined and consistently applied we can deal with it.

Like the encroaching thing on penalties. Before VAR came along some refs used to make an effort to look at the keeper and some just didn't know about the rule or cared enough to ever pay attention to those situations. Nobody ever got in trouble for not enforcing those rules and it happened so rarely that it didn't effect the game for the viewer enough to create outrage, so there was no repercussions. That's an issue in itself that it takes public pressure for these guys to improve their product. With VAR they keep everything in the shallow end and the media sell stories about it and stupid pundits act like they know whats going on. Waiting on public perception instead of actively trying to improve just creates further complications when rules are changed or applied differently from week to week based on the expected public response or backlash. These inconsistencies takes away from the integrity of the game.

This is why it feels like a bias exist against United. United is on everyones lips. Everyone is clearly upset when United get results as proved by Klopp etc and various refereeing performances. They make an example out of United, not because of some conspiracy to not let us win, but simply because United creates the most loud responses so if they are to make a rule change or an example out of something, it usually always seem to happen when United is involved. People like Klopp and pundits they moan about it loudly, and no matter how ignorantly they come off it creates public pressure and when the league responds only to backlash instead of proactively looking to improve things on their own, it creates this effect. It really messes with my enjoyment of the game because if integrity in sports disappears there is no point, non at all besides arguing over who is cheating the worst or has the prettiest player etc.

The bias exist also for small clubs. It exist for every club in fact depending on the type of situation around the game, the different circumstances and may benefit a team one day and not the other day. Everyone who loves watching their PL team will feel hard done by, even a truly objective and calm fan will feel the impact of this from time to time and it sucks. It doesn't even itself out because football is about margins, it's also a point based game. You can get a goal removed for no reason against a rival, that might cost you 6 points effectively and you get a wrong penalty call against a bottom club when it's already 5-0 doesn't make a huge difference.

Sorry for the ranty post. To summarise VAR is great, it can be used to correct wrongs in a split second with the proper technological assets in place. The current application of it is reactionary, unremarkable and incredibly dodgy. I don't think VAR is ruining football but the application and media coverage ruins football for everyone. It takes away from the real problem which is the main reason that it sucks, and that is poor refereeing standards and lack of action to actively improve the refereeing department of the game despite the large sums of money already involved in the game and the league.

Start with creating blueprints for the most common situations and decisions in football and work from there until a guys in the VAR room and on the field can not only remember certain rules but also read a fecking guide on how to interpret specific repeated situations. Then supply them with technology to help them make the right decisions as quickly as possible. Laser readers across the pitch, chips in the boots and the ball. Monitor the game in real time and have a computer analyse it and use numbers to make split second decisions that will remain consistent every game for every team, no matter who's playing who or which country a player is coming from. They could easily stop diving by now even without technology if they only had a blueprint to define what constitutes diving and how it should be punished. Clearly they need to rig the players with sort of motion detectors and force reactors. 'I'm just saying random made up science words at this point, because frankly I'm not paid to come up with this shit. They have the money, figure it out already. It's not that hard, it really isn't.
 
Last edited:

Moonwalker

Full Member
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
Messages
3,510
I did say that I thought Friend did the right thing in the end. And maybe you're right and this is not going to be an issue, and I hope you are. But I think unless as the idea of "slo-mo being inaccurate" catches on in the zeitgeist and normal discussion and while clowns like Jaime Redknapp can just say uncontested "You just wanna see consistency, you could see it given", then I fear we slide almost uncontested more and more into that territory.

Think how much more sanitized the game has become compared to 15 years ago already. It's gone from "two footers - straight red" to "studs showing - straight red" to "he got the ball but his follow through was a bit high - possible red". My point is that, nobody explicitly makes the point that just because there's contact - it's not wrong or illegal or dangerous or a foul. This is the reason why diving is such a big problem too, by the way - because refs give penalties when players go down and there's contact - often forgetting about the bigger picture as you say.

My point may even be less about VAR and its technical application and more about the way the refs talk about it and the way it is covered by the media. For example, did you know the whole "clear and obvious" never even enters into the discussion during a VAR check? Yet everyone covering the game from the pundits to even former refs seem completely obsessed with it after every VAR referral.

PS: An additional point, How routinely do you now see a perfectly good tackle called a foul for basically no reason other than it looked dangerous? Two people flying towards each other with full intent to get there first will always look dangerous!
I'm not privy to Stockley Park discussions and have no idea how often those exact words are used. It's a very broad term and can mean a lot of different things to different people. I suspect they'll have an operational definition of clear and obvious though, filled with a bit more exact descriptive content.

The media are goading the malcontents with this syntagm as a symbol of broken promises, because why not? It creates drama, it's good television and it's good for clicks too.