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VAR decisions at Schalke v Manchester City explained

VAR protocol correctly applied for two penalty decisions during yesterday’s UEFA Champions League round of 16 match with emphasis put on “accuracy over speed.”

VAR decisions at Schalke v Manchester City explained
VAR decisions at Schalke v Manchester City explained ©UEFA.com

Two VAR reviews led to penalty kicks being awarded during yesterday’s UEFA Champions League match between FC Schalke 04 and Manchester City FC (2-3).

Both instances occurred during a period of approximately 10 minutes in which a technical issue experienced by the VAR technical supplier impacted the ability to deliver replay images to the pitchside referee review area.

When such a malfunction of the system occurs, the IFAB protocol allows for the VAR to describe to the referee what can be seen on the TV replay(s) but not tell him the decision that should be taken. The referee then makes a final decision based on his own perception and the information received orally from the VAR.

In regards to the first decision, the inability to access the incident replays at the pitchside review area led to a delay in reaching the correct decision to award a penalty kick for a handball offence, while the VAR orally described the situation to the referee to allow him to make a final decision, and for the referee to then provide an explanation to the two team captains to clarify the circumstances regarding the pitchside review area and the decision-making process

The second decision was also correctly made on the basis of the Laws of the Game (Law 11 – Offside) which stipulates: “if a player in an offside position is moving towards the ball with the intention of playing the ball and is fouled before playing or attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball, the foul is penalised as it has occurred before the offside offence”.

The images in the picture above - taken at the exact same moment from two different angles - clearly show that a foul is committed inside the box before the Schalke player could even attempt to play the ball and hence such offence must be punished with the awarding of a penalty kick.

Commenting on these two decisions, UEFA’s Chief Refereeing Officer Roberto Rosetti said: “I am pleased that even without the possibility for the referee to review the incidents with his own eyes, the excellent cooperation of the team of officials led to correct decisions being made.

“It must also be underlined that – and as is described in the VAR protocol - accuracy is always in principle more important than speed when reaching a decision. Clearly, last night’s technical issues had a big impact on the time taken to reach decisions, but we are fully aware that reducing the time factor is key to the success of VAR and we are doing our utmost to make reviews as quick and efficient as possible.  

“However, what we ultimately want is correct decisions in such match-changing situations and this is what we got yesterday.”

UEFA will also be addressing the matter of the technical failure with its VAR technical supplier to ensure that such issue does not happen again in the future.