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VAR Must Challenge On-Field Referees More – Webb

Video assistant referees have been asked to be more proactive in challenging officials following a series of controversial decisions.

This includes Wolves’ Hwang Hee-chan being incorrectly penalised for a foul on Newcastle’s Fabian Schar during their 2-2 draw.

Premier League refereeing chief Howard Webb said VAR should have intervened.

“We are asking VARs to have a look and if they don’t like the decision, ask the referee what they saw,” said Webb.

With the game at 1-1 in first-half stoppage time, on-field referee Anthony Taylor awarded a spot-kick when Hwang challenged Schar for the ball in the Wolves area, but the Newcastle man appeared to kick the turf and looked to already be on his way down before any contact.

There was a lengthy VAR check but Taylor’s on-field decision stood, and Callum Wilson put Newcastle in front.

Wolves manager Gary O’Neil called the decision “scandalous” after the game.

O’Neil has been a frequent critic of refereeing and VAR this season, with several major decisions having gone against his side, including a penalty not awarded to Wolves away at Manchester United, and one wrongly given to Sheffield United in their last-gasp win over the Wolverhampton team.

Speaking on Match Officials Mic’d Up, a Premier League Productions programme which analyses VAR decisions from the last months, Webb admitted there had been an error and revealed video officials are now being urged to challenge on-field referees for more detailed reasoning when a decision is debatable.

“VAR shouldn’t re-referee the game and be reserved for clear situations when errors occur on the field. In this situation we see Hwang does not play the ball, it is played on to him by Schar and then there is contact between the players,” said Webb, head of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the group that officiates all Premier League matches.

“But what the referee has seen in real time is Hwang bring that leg through and make contact with Schar. If we see the replay, Hwang pulls his swing back a little bit, Schar brings his foot through and there’s contact.

“We feel this reaches the threshold for it being a clear and obvious error, even though there is contact.

“We are asking the VARs going forward with our instruction to have a look at it, see where the considerations sit and if they don’t like the decision on the field, ask the referee what they saw. And if it is significantly different to what is being shown on the video then recommend a review so the referee can come to the screen and look at it again for himself, the starting point where the VAR thinks there has been a clear error.

“In this situation this VAR didn’t quite get there and in our opinion should have done.”

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