Compiled By Markson Omagor
The Premier League was accused of changing the VAR rules after another day of huge controversy which saw Liverpool denied victory by a contentious late penalty.
Former official and BT Sport pundit Peter Walton said he thinks referees chief Mike Riley has ‘lowered the bar’ for what constitutes a clear and obvious error after VAR intervened for a foul by Andy Robertson on Brighton striker Danny Welbeck.
The decision led Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson to call for VAR to be scrapped and claimed it is ruining the game.
Stuart Attwell waved play-on only for the VAR Kevin Friend to advise the on-field referee to go to the monitor as he thought a clear and obvious error had been made.
Attwell reversed his decision, awarded a penalty which Pascal Gross scored to earn Brighton a 1-1 draw.
‘I’ve got to recalibrate my thinking,’ said Walton. ‘VAR was brought in for clear and obvious errors. Just because there is contact it doesn’t mean it is a foul.
‘You can clearly see there is contact and you can give the penalty for that but the point I am trying to make is does VAR need to intervene for that?
You can clearly see there is contact and you can give the penalty for that but the point I am trying to make is does VAR need to intervene for that?
‘I do think the bar has been lowered by the Premier League and we have seen evidence of that in the last few weeks. Re-refereeing is an emotive term and by the letter of the law it shouldn’t be re-refereed, that’s why Stuart Attwell goes over to the screen. But you should be refereeing in the context of the game.’
Reds captain Henderson said he would prefer to play without VAR. ‘I’d rather just play football as normal,’ he said. ‘Football is such a good game, why are we ruining it?
‘I feel as though we are talking about incidents and talking about things all of the time rather than just talking about the game itself. In my opinion, I’d rather play without it.’
Brighton’s penalty was the sixth time in the last three Premier League weekends that a referee has been advised to go to the pitch-side monitor and then overturned their on-field decision.
The Premier League last night insisted that the bar for intervention had not been lowered.
Former Premier League official and The Mail on Sunday’s referee expert Chris Foy, who is still a part of the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL), also confirmed that there has been no change.
‘The referees are working to a set of principles and applying them absolutely fairly,’ he said. ‘The bar hasn’t changed. I’m absolutely comfortable with that decision and the process which arrived at it. It was a penalty.’
Like Henderson, Liverpool team-mate James Milner was far less comfortable with the decision.
‘It’s [supposed to be] “clear and obvious”,’ he tweeted. ‘We need a serious discussion about VAR. Sure I’m not alone in feeling like they are falling out of love with the game in its current state.’