The news of the Premier League 2021-22: the VAR and the forward positions, the penalties and the hands

The news of the Premier League 2021-22: the VAR and the forward positions, the penalties and the hands

After the 2020-21 Premier League season left a record number of penalties, infuriating VAR offside decisions by the millimeter and hand chaos in the area, something had to change. And it has changed! In the season that begins there will be some modifications in how the referees will interpret certain aspects of the game rules. Here we explain how the matches could improve in 2021-22.


That changes?

In the 2020-21 season, 32 goals were disallowed by the VAR for advanced position, as well as marginal decisions by the assistant referee. The benefit of the doubt for the forward disappeared, and being at the level of the last defender became little more than a romantic notion of the pre-VAR era.

But all that has changed for 2021-22. The Premier League will now use the same system that UEFA introduced last season, in the Champions League and in Euro 2020. The process is the same, but the final decision could be very different. If the two offside lines shown on television touch or overlap, the goal will be valid whether the linesman has scored it or not.

“In a marginal forward position, we have now reintroduced the benefit of the doubt for the attacker,” said Premier League chief umpire Mike Riley. “So the players who were out of the game because of a fingernail or a nose last season will not be out of the game next season.”

What will be the difference?

Riley says there were 19 scoring incidents last season that would have been protected under the new interpretation. Between them:
– Mohamed Salah’s goals against Brighton & Hove Albion and Sheffield United
– Jordan Henderson’s winning goal in injury time for Liverpool at Everton
– Patrick Bamford for Leeds United at Crystal Palace
– Aymeric Laporte for Manchester City vs. Wolves

There will still be goals scored in a forward position that will appear “marginal”, but the players would have to be ahead by more than two inches.

As will be?

Take Willian José’s disallowed goal for Wolverhampton Wanderers in Fulham as an example, when Daniel Podence was ahead in the qualifying game.

The original VAR image shows the red (attacker) and blue (defender) line on top of each other. It’s impossible to see how the Wolves player could be offside.

Now when they are this close, the VAR will validate the goal and a single green line will be displayed instead.

Will anything else be different?

Yes. Fans will no longer see the process when the VAR uses the technology to move the lines on the screen. It turned out to be too confusing, so now the end result will only be seen on television.

Additionally, attendees have been instructed to raise the flag when a player is clearly out of play, to try to reduce the frustration of unnecessary play passages before the flag is raised. But it won’t be as fast as Euro 2020, as UEFA brought in specialized offside VARs from major leagues just to do that job. National leagues don’t have enough assistant referees to do the same.


A record 125 penalties were taken in the Premier League last season, an increase of 37.5 percent over the previous season, many of them the result of plays in which the attacker seemed barely touched. But this was not only a problem in England; the number of penalties doubled in Ligue 1 and had a 50 percent increase in the Bundesliga.

Referees have been praised at Euro 2020, thanks to the way they allowed the game to flow and how they ignored the minimal contact between players. Now the Premier League wants its referees to officiate matches in the same way.

“Fundamentally we want the approach to be one that allows the players to be able to enter the pitch and play freely, that allows the Premier League matches to flow and that implies that the referee team, both the referees and the VAR, do not intervene. on trivial fouls, “Riley said. “We have to create a game that flows, where the threshold is slightly higher than last season.”

This will be most evident on penalties, with Riley claiming that “the contact itself is only part of what the referee should be watching, also considering the consequence and the motivation of the player.

What does this mean? The established principles are as follows:

– The referee should monitor and establish that there was clear contact.

– Ask yourself if this contact from the defender has a consequence.

– Has the attacker used that contact to attract a foul or a penalty?

– Contact alone is not enough.

This means that if an attacker falls to the ground, the manner in which he falls must be correlated with the defender’s contact. So an attacker falling to the ground due to minimal contact should no longer be a penalty.

An example of this is the penalty Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos got against Everton (which was actually disallowed for an offside). This same one would not be awarded to Ceballos this season since his rival barely touched him, but he took advantage of the contact to get a penalty.


Accidental hand in attack

In the 2020-21 campaign, only five goals were invalidated per hand in attack, so it could be that the number of complaints is exceeding the level of the problem. Last season, a goal could be ruled out by the kicker or the creator.

This season, a goal will only be invalidated if the ball touches the arm or hand of the player who scores the goal and this player scores the goal immediately. The intention still does not matter, but if the ball accidentally touches a player’s hand or arm, and the player passes the ball to another to score, the goal is valid. Following this new interpretation, only two of those five goals would be invalidated from now on.

It means that Josh Maja’s goal for Fulham against Tottenham Hotspur, which came after the ball hit the arm of his teammate, Mario Lemina, would no longer be disallowed.

In any case, Callum Wilson’s goal against Liverpool would be invalidated, as it was the Newcastle United striker who accidentally touched the ball before scoring the goal.

Hand in defense

In an attempt to stem the tide of hand penalties seen across Europe, the rule has been changed. It takes us to the place we were in 2019, and it means that the hand should be judged in the position expected by the player’s movement. It means that a penalty should generally be awarded if a player tries to enlarge his body by raising an arm away from the rest of his body or if he does so deliberately.

The clause that requires an automatic hand-holding if the arm is above the shoulder has been removed. Tottenham player Eric Dier conceded a penalty against Newcastle last season, now his arm would be considered in a natural position to jump. However, if a player has his hand in the air for no obvious reason, that would still be considered a penalty – as we have seen with the penalty that Sheffield United player Jack Robinson awarded against Fulham.

The successful implementation of these changes will be the responsibility of the 22 Premier League referees. It will be difficult to achieve consistency, especially with regard to the collection of hands and penalties.

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