Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey has claimed that all three interventions from VAR were correct in West Ham’s 5-0 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday, but has questioned the speed at which the decisions were made.
The video referee was called into action on a trio of key incidents – ruling out a Raheem Sterling goal before allowing another one to stand, and then forcing Sergio Aguero to retake a penalty after it was saved by Lukasz Fabianski.
Writing in a piece for the Sun, Halsey said: “VAR was right in all three big calls at West Ham — but is this what we wanted?
“Gabriel Jesus struck for 3-0 but it was ruled out, Raheem Sterling offside by a millimetre and VAR took a minute or more to decide. No one from West Ham would have complained if it was given.
“Two further incidents saw Sterling rightly given onside before a penalty for City was correctly retaken after Declan Rice encroached in the area, but those decisions also took a minute of waiting around.
“We have to be careful what we wish for with VAR, as it takes passion and enjoyment away from scoring goals.”
There are bound to be teething problems with VAR, but ultimately, it will be better for the game if everybody sticks with it. This is the first weekend it has been in use, and as Halsey himself states, it has gotten every decision put before it correct. There have been discussions over whether or not Sterling having a shoulder offside by a couple of millimetres should be enough to rule a goal out, but that’s an issue with the laws of the game, not the technology. As for this whole “it will suck the joy out of celebrating goals” rhetoric – absolute nonsense. If you think that 50,000 people, swept up in the emotion of a Premier League match and surrounded by their mates, are going to sit and wait politely for permission to go crazy every time the ball hits the back of the net then you’re wrong. People will always celebrate, and if anything, the prospect of it getting ruled out will heighten the stakes. VAR will affect such a small number of goals that it’s a relatively moot argument, and taking yesterday’s exceptional match in isolation is a surefire way to turn supporters on the new way of doing things.