Keith Hackett criticises FA over VAR implementation

Burnley v Barnsley - FA Cup Third Round

Former FIFA referee Keith Hackett has accused the Football Association of bringing the VAR system into disrepute.

Hackett, who led the Professional Game Match Officials Limited between 2004 and 2010, is a firm supporter of the video review system which will be introduced to the Premier League next season.

But after a sometimes chaotic weekend when the system provoked plenty of FA Cup controversy, Hackett feels the FA is “just playing around with VAR” and must follow the lines of communication used in other sports.

“I’m a massive supporter of technology but the FA have to be transparent in what they are doing,” Hackett told Press Association Sport.

“I think the FA are just playing around with it and not selling it.

“How long does the FA want to experiment with this? All they are doing is putting it into disrepute.

“In other countries it’s operating well, not without problems because it’s not utopia.

“VAR will not give you 100 per cent accuracy of every decision. It’s not aimed to do that.

“It’s aimed to support and at the World Cup they used the sidescreen. They went pitchside, looked to reaffirm the decision, and VAR worked extremely well.


“But here it seems to be a case of, ‘who’s doing VAR this week?’. There’s no practice – and you don’t practice on the job.”

There was confusion in the FA Cup on Saturday when Burnley were denied a penalty after a VAR referral in their third-round win against Barnsley.

The ball was on the spot and Matej Vydra was about to start his run-up when referee Simon Hooper informed the Clarets striker that there was actually no penalty after all.

In the Manchester United-Reading tie, Fred’s effort was ruled out for an offside against Romelu Lukaku before a penalty was awarded for a foul on Juan Mata.

There was over two minutes between Mata being fouled and the penalty awarded, but Hackett insists that should not be of concern if the “crowd are kept informed on the big screen” as the referee has the power to add time on.

VAR also made key interventions at Crystal Palace and Fulham, and Hackett feels referees are being undermined by the way the system is being used in what he believes is against the protocols of the game’s lawmakers, the International Football Association Board.

Chelsea v Southampton - The Emirates FA Cup Semi Final

“The criteria has been laid down but the FA do not seem to be operating it,” Hackett said.

“The pitchside monitors are there for the referees to review incidents. But the decisions are seemingly being made elsewhere and the match referee is being left high and dry.

“I also don’t understand why supporters who pay to watch a match are kept in the dark, while others at home who pay nothing more than a TV licence hear what’s going on in the studio and can see replays.

“I can’t understand why this lot don’t adopt what we see in rugby and what works.

“The spectators in the ground see reviews on the big screen, they are involved in the process and it enhances the game.

AFC Bournemouth v Brighton and Hove Albion - FA Cup Third Round

“The referees use it and still retain the ownership of decisions. That’s better than seeing the referee poking his finger in his ear and listening to somebody who could be giving him duff information.”

Hackett feels the PGMOL’s failure to hold on to former referees such as Mark Clattenburg, Mark Halsey, Peter Walton and Howard Webb is a serious blow to the organisation.

But he insists the system would be far smoother if VAR teams and match officials were assigned to work together on a consistent basis.

“I brought in teams of match officials in my time there and that’s all they’ve got to do at the PGMOL,” said Hackett, who is still involved in refereeing development and conducts coaching clinics around the world.

“They’ve got to have a squad of VAR officials who work with one or two referees only, so the team would then become accountable and improve their communication.

“When you work together as a team more frequently you become better.

“Instead we’ve got a wishy-washy situation where some games have VAR and others don’t.

“What should be introducing a very simple process proven in other sports has been over-complicated and we’ve been left with a hotchpotch.”

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