There are flaws in VAR that mean not every offside decision will be correct

We’re going to be talking about VAR a lot this season.

The technology, which is being implemented for the first time in the Premier League this season, has already caused great controversy.

On the opening weekend of the season, Wolves’ Leander Dendoncker had a goal harshly disallowed by VAR due to handball.

“We are going to have to play with our hands chopped off in future,” complained Wolves captain Conor Coady.

And VAR also chalked off a Manchester City goal in their 5-0 win against West Ham.

Raheem Sterling squared the ball for Gabriel Jesus to score but the England international’s shoulder was marginally offside when he made the pass.

More would have been made of the incident had Man City not ran out 5-0 winners.

Flaws in VAR technology

But the reigning champions were victims of another controversial VAR call in their 2-2 draw against Tottenham on Sunday – and the Daily Mail have discovered some flaws in the system.

“Referee bosses insist the technology being used gives almost 100 per cent certainty in tight offside decisions – but we can reveal that is simply not the case,” they write.

Sterling was said to be offside by 2.4cm, but VAR apparently allowed for a 13cm margin for error in making the decision.

And the margin can be even bigger than that.

“The technology used in trying to determine when a ball was passed and when a run was made is actually not advanced enough – with a margin for error that could be as big as 38.8cm (14inches),” the Mail’s report adds.

And it’s not anybody’s fault. The technology is simply not advanced enough to get every decision to be correct.

The laws state that a player is deemed on or offside at ‘the first point of contact’ when the ball is played. But the technology doesn’t always know when that is.

VAR uses cameras than run at 50 frames per second, with one picture taken every 0.02 seconds.

When an offside decision is being deliberated, VAR must choose the frame which proves with certainty that the ball has been touched. If Frame A shows the boot not touching the ball, then VAR must select the next one in which the ball has definitely been touched.

But the actual first point of contact will be somewhere between the frames. And in that time, a player can move from onside to offside.

This means there is a margin for error, and it varies depending on the speed of the attackers and defenders.

Based on the fastest speed recorded in the Premier League last season – 21.75mph (35kmh) – that margin could be as big as 38.8cm.

So, if a player is found to be offside by less than the margin, the VAR can’t be sure whether they were offside or not at the moment the ball was played.

Reports claim that lawmakers are already considering reviewing VAR’s offside system.

Clearly, something needs to be done.

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