England striker Jamie Vardy believes players and fans cannot feel like they are being left in the dark if video assistant referees (VAR) are to succeed.
The much-discussed system was once again thrown into the spotlight during England’s 1-1 friendly against Italy at Wembley on Tuesday, as Three Lions debutant James Tarkowski was penalised for a foul on substitute Federico Chiesa in the box during the closing stages.
Referee Deniz Aytekin awarded a penalty after consulting the pitchside monitor, leaving Lorenzo Insigne to convert from 12 yards and cancel out Vardy’s emphatic first-half opener.
England boss Gareth Southgate complained afterwards that the Tarkowski incident was not “clear and obvious”, citing the guidelines for VAR where such a phrase actually does not feature.
Leicester City striker Vardy feels confusion around VAR is not helping players or fans ahead of its implementation at the World Cup in Russia and thinks displaying more information on stadium screens could be a way forward.
“That’s the worst thing about it, not just for players but for fans as well,” he said.
“It just says ‘VAR in use’ [on stadium screens]. If you’re on the pitch you’re just standing there not knowing what’s going on and in the crowd you’re just sat there waiting.
“I think we’re still going to go into challenges we think we can win. I don’t think it will stop it from that point of view,
“I know they use it in other sports where it’s actually up on a big screen so that everyone can see what the video ref is looking at, with replays.
“At the minute we’re just standing there waiting for the ref.”
Speaking about the penalty incident after the match, England boss Gareth Southgate said: “I think the ruling is ‘clear and obvious’ and this is not. It’s one you can debate all day.”
The phrase “clear and obvious” has come to dominate debate around VAR but does not feature anywhere in the International Football Association Board’s implementation handbook, a factor which has arguably served to confuse understanding of the protocol for using the technology.
The VAR can overrule the referee directly if they feel a “very clear” error has been made, while an on-field review such as the one Tarkowski fell foul of will only take place if the video official does not feel the incident matches the former description but wants his colleague to take another look.
The referee then decides whether or not to overrule their own decision in an on-field review and the VAR is not involved in that part of the decision-making process, which was followed correctly in England versus Italy – precisely because the incident was not a refereeing clear error.
“I think we’ve had as much instruction as can be given,” Vardy said, who acknowledged players from Serie A, the Bundesliga and the A-League might enjoy an advantage having worked with the system week-in, week out this season as opposed to occasional FA Cup use in England.
“It’s a work in progress in the competitions we’ve been in, in the English leagues, so it’s just one of those things we have to deal with at the moment.
“Hopefully it will be spot on at the World Cup. Some other counties have already got it in their leagues and it’s worked for them. Why can’t it work for us?”
One thing VAR has indisputably failed to do at this stage is remove debate around refereeing decisions and Vardy added: “It’s still down to referees to try and make the right decisions in the first place.
“The pressure’s on them too, they don’t want to be going to VAR all the time to change a decision they’ve made.”
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