There were two disputed decisions by referee Mark Clattenburg late in the game against Everton and with the recent experiment introducing Video Assistant Referees, we can wonder what would have happened there and what could happen in the near future.
As mentioned by the IFAB on their website about the FIFA Club World Cup testing:
“Every match in the host cities of Osaka and Yokohama will involve highly-trained VARs who can access broadcast feeds from a video operation room and communicate with the match officials to help correct any game-changing decisions (goals, penalty incidents, direct red cards and mistaken identity) that are clearly wrong. In a significant development that will be new for many viewers, the main referee may decide to review footage directly on a pitch-side monitor – particularly for subjective decisions, as opposed to factual ones where he can rely solely on the information provided by the VAR.
The philosophy underlying the experiments is not to achieve 100% accuracy for all decisions, as this would destroy the essential flow and emotions of football. The aim is to achieve ‘minimum interference, maximum benefit’, with the technology only being used for the defined match-changing situations and any serious missed incidents. In these cases, the question a VAR will consider is not ‘was the decision correct?’ but ‘was the decision clearly wrong?'”
First on the corner that led to Everton’s second goal from Ashley Williams, Arsene Wenger said:
“It was not a corner, you could see from our side it was no corner.”
“But I think we have to live with a wrong decision and it does not explain why we did not head the ball after.”
“I think I am really disappointed because Clattenburg was in a very good position to see they headed the ball out and it’s not the first time we are unlucky with this decision this season.”
Although the referee “mistake” ultimately cost Arsenal a goal, it does not come into the remit of the VAR job, because it is not part of the four game-changing decisions defined by FIFA, so that one would not have been reviewed by Mark Clattenburg.
We have already mentioned the Alexis Sanchez penalty incident on the website and you can see the video here and this action would have been reviewed by the VAR.
So Mark Clattenburg would have been able to ask the advice of Video Assistant Referees who watch a pitchside video of the replay, and then in all logic award Arsenal a penalty or in all stupidity book Alexis Sanchez for a dive.
So in that game, 50% of the “wrong” important decisions against Arsenal would have been reviewed, which is a lot better than the usual mistakes not being looked at and the referee not being demoted as well.
Let’s hope FIFA and the IFAB conclude that the tests are positive and the Video Assistant Referees become part of the Premier League as soon as possible, so that referees errors become a thing from the past.