Premier League Votes to Retain VAR Amid Calls for Improvements

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MANCHESTER, England, – Premier League teams voted on Thursday to retain the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system despite widespread criticism throughout the past season.

The BBC reported that 19 out of 20 teams supported keeping VAR, with Wolverhampton Wanderers casting the sole vote against it.

“While VAR produces more accurate decision making, it was agreed that improvements should be made for the benefit of the game and supporters,” the league stated.

During discussions with clubs, six key areas were identified for improvement:

  1. Maintaining a High Threshold for VAR: Ensuring only clear and obvious errors are reviewed.
  2. Reducing Game Delays: Primarily by introducing semi-automated offside technology (SAOT).
  3. Enhancing Fan Experience: Reducing delays and providing in-stadium announcements to explain post-VAR decision changes.
  4. Improving VAR Training: Focusing on speed and consistency without sacrificing accuracy.
  5. Increasing Transparency and Communication: Providing clearer information about VAR decisions.
  6. Launching a Communication Campaign: Educating fans and stakeholders about VAR’s role in the game.

In April, the league confirmed that SAOT would be introduced in the autumn of 2024. This technology aims to speed up and ensure consistent placement of the virtual offside line through optical player tracking.

Wolverhampton Wanderers expressed disappointment in the outcome but acknowledged the decision. “We welcome the commitment to improve VAR… While we still believe Premier League football would be superior without VAR, we think these improvements are crucial for the integrity of the game and for enhancing the overall matchday experience for our supporters,” Wolves said in a statement to the BBC.

The Premier League and the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd. (PGMOL) will continue to lobby the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to allow greater flexibility for live video and audio broadcasts during VAR reviews. – Reuters