Mark Halsey column: Penalty decisions were subjective and we don’t want VAR re-refereeing games

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There are still one or two inconsistencies involving VAR that need to be ironed out, including with a few penalty controversies over the past weekend. 

No doubt the decision in the Leeds vs Everton game was correct, but my only surprise was that Darren England and his assistants didn’t see the offence in the first instance.

Nevertheless, it was a good implementation of VAR.

I’ve also noticed an issue with VAR when it comes to some goals being disallowed and some not.

If we look at Man City vs Norwich, one goal was disallowed after a VAR recommendation, but the initial decision is subjective meaning VAR cannot and must not get involved.

Should they be re-refereeing the game? No. Was it a clear and obvious error? No.

In the Southampton vs Man Utd match, Bruno Fernandes was fouled and VAR didn’t get involved. That’s despite the fact that it was a foul. On this occasion the referee decided it wasn’t, and that’s just one example of the inconsistencies.

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Newcastle weren’t happy with another penalty going against them either.

On Saturday with the handball decision, referee, David Coote, was in a good position and adjudged it not to be deliberate.

VAR got involved, but again, it’s a subjective decision so there was no need for VAR.

In the Chelsea vs Arsenal game there was the James and Saka incident. That’s subjective. It’s a coming together, a side by side.

Former Premier League and FIFA referee Mark Halsey is a columnist for

Is it a clear and obvious error by Paul Tierney? You have to say no. Had he given the penalty, it would’ve stayed as a penalty.

Dele Alli in the Wolves vs Tottenham game – did he initiate the contact? You can argue he did but it wasn’t a clear and obvious error.

We don’t want VAR re-refereeing games. Full stop.

On Jurgen Klopp’s comments regarding challenges and the physicality of the Premier League, I believe that the refs have got the balance right.

I saw that the lines were being put out and used again, and that’s just going to start confusing everyone, but on the whole, the first two weekends have been positive.

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  1. Hi, sorry to say I couldn’t agree with this piece less. I, and the vast majority of fans that I know, do want the correct decisions being reached and if the match officials can’t reach the correct conclusion then, yes, I do want VAR to referee the game.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the point of VAR to ensure that correct consistent decisions are reached? In regards to the Wolves Spurs game yesterday Dele Alli is clearly falling (diving?) before the ‘keeper makes contact so, in my opinion, it’s not a penalty but VAR decided that the referee was correct but here lies the issue: had the referee not given the pen then VAR would have decided that the referee was still correct.

    How can right possibly be right? Because the decision is subjective you argue that the incident is both a foul and yet not a foul (depending on the referee’s decision) and I’m sorry that’s just a nonsense. It’s either a foul or it’s not so let’s please use VAR correctly and forget all this ‘clear and obvious’ rubbish and reach the correct decision. I’m sure that weekend there’ll be a carbon copy of the Alli incident that has the opposite outcome and that can’t be right, good for the game and, more importantly, less confusing for the fans.

    Personally I don’t think it’s a pen but VAR decided it was so every incident like that should result in the same conclusion and not fall into the clear and obvious abyss, which is just another way of saying that the referee is wrong but he’s not wrong enough.

    Come on lets sort it out!

    1. You can’t forget the ‘clear and obvious rubbish’ because VAR only comes in if a ‘clear and obvious’ error has been made. Otherwise, VAR shouldn’t be getting involved. The rules are clear, it’s the application of them by the refs that is the problem.

      1. I think that you can forget the clear and obvious rule tbh VAR checks every penalty decision and only overrules when the ref has made a complete howler.

        Like I say the issue we have with the clear and obvious rule is that the same incident could have 2 possible outcomes depending on the refs initial decision and then we’re back to moaning about inconsistencies as we were 5 years ago. So yes forget clear and obvious and reach the correct decision. If VAR is to be used then use it correctly….there’s also an argument that refs shouldn’t decide on a penalty, just let VAR do it as its going to run a check anyway.

  2. This is my first post anywhere notwithstanding having been a Wolves fan for over 50 years. Dele Alli clearly dived and stuck his foot out towards the Wolves goalkeeper, Jose Sa. It can be nothing but clear and obvious that the referee did not see the dive which error should have been corrected by VAR. Dele Alli should have been booked for simulation and no penalty awarded; he even feigned injury until confident that the referee’s error was not going to be corrected. I invite anyone to view the replay.

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