With the Premier League’s return for the new 2020/21 season, the resumption of action will also see the return of VAR.
English top-flight clubs have agreed to key changes to VAR for the new season which will see the league operate in line with FIFA’s protocol, after the system endured a controversial first season.
In July 2020, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) transferred the responsibility of VAR to FIFA after inconsistencies in the Premier League’s application of the technology.
A Premier League statement confirmed their clubs had to agree to important changes in VAR protocol for the new season, saying: “At the Premier League’s Annual General Meeting, shareholders agreed to rules relating to Video Assistant Referees (VAR) and substitute players for the 2020/21 season.
“Shareholders unanimously approved the implementation of VAR, in line with the full FIFA VAR protocol.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the important changes to VAR:
Referee Review Area
In 2019/20 there was an outcry from supporters and the media for referees to consult the on-field monitors.
However, Mike Riley, leader of the Premier League’s PGMOL group, was against the use of the monitors and it wasn’t until January, in the FA Cup, that they were first used in England.
Across Europe and in the Champions League, the on-field monitors have been used to great effect and referees will now consult the monitors on a more frequent basis for subjective decisions, such as goals, red cards and penalty kicks.
Goalkeeper encroachment on penalty kicks
From the 2020/21 season, there will be no tolerance on goalkeeper encroachment from penalty kicks which will inevitably result in more retakes.
If a goalkeeper saves from 12 yards but has stepped off their goal line before the shot, VAR will order a retake of the penalty.
This will not apply if the penalty is missed without the interference of the goalkeeper (if the ball is hit over the bar, for example).
Player encroachment on penalty kicks
Similarly, there will be no tolerance for player encroachment.
So, if any part of the player’s body that is on the ground is inside the penalty area when the ball is kicked, then the penalty will be retaken.
However, as with goalkeepers, this will only apply if the player who has encroached is directly involved in the aftermath of the penalty (for example, clearing the ball after the goalkeeper’s save or hitting the woodwork).
Keeping the flag down for tight marginal offside offences
Assistant referees will be asked to keep their flag down for any goalscoring chances, to prevent any incorrect offside calls.
Unlike 2019/20, where players were told to ignore the flag and play to the whistle, assistant referees will not raise their flag and VAR will review any marginal offside decision to ensure the correct outcome is reached.
There will be no change to the offside rules and no tolerance levels will be allowed.
Although, on tight calls, fans watching the game on the TV will be able to see if a player is on or offside via the colours of the lines shown.
Should a player be onside, the line will turn green, or will alternatively turn red if a player is offside.