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VAR use in Premier League is flawed and arrogant, says former referee

00:28 GMT+3 23/10/2019
Tottenham Watford VAR no goal 191019
Video technology remains controversial in the early stage of its debut season in the Premier League, but there is a lot of progress to be made

Former referee Keith Hackett says the Premier League has been arrogant in defence of VAR and believes the system in the English top-flight is "flawed".

VAR has been at the centre of several controversial moments in its maiden season in the Premier League, most recently during Sunday's 1-1 draw between Manchester United and Liverpool.

Despite the constant headlines the technology generates, Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), which oversees officials across all levels of English football, says VAR made just four mistakes in the first four weeks of the campaign.

But Hackett feels PGMOL are misleading fans regarding VAR's effectiveness and says there are many more errors to come.

"There's a level of arrogance that seems to be coming out of the PGMOL at the moment, that every decision we're making is correct," he told Sky Sports.

"Let's look at last season's stats. [PGMOL managing director] Mike Riley came out and said we are 82 per cent accurate on the big decisions, which is saying literally one in five of the big decisions we are getting wrong.

"So we have now got VAR and we're going to improve, we're going to get these big decisions and we're going to be better at it.

"He then comes out and says we've had a review and we've only made four errors - and everybody in the game must have fell over laughing, because who is he kidding? Four errors? How many does he agree to this week that he's made? None?

"Let's be real - we are dealing with human beings, and human beings will always make mistakes. VAR is there for us to see a game with less errors and hopefully move the decision-making process, accuracy, into the high 90 per cents. We are not achieving that, anywhere near."

He added: "I come from a point of being very positive about the use of technology to aid refereeing decisions. I have supported VAR and I'll continue to support VAR.

"However, putting it mildly, I think Mr Riley needs, along with others, to review how the system is operating and ask why are we doing it different to other countries, and to how it operated in the World Cup.

"Why have they decided not to use the pitchside monitor? It's been used in other competitions around the world and it's part of the criteria of the International Football Association Board.

"Let us get the officials together, and let us understand we are going to use the pitchside monitor. Let everybody be aware that it's going to delay the process, but the outcome has to be a more accurate decision than we are getting at the moment."

And the former Premier League official believes referees should be made to work with psychologists to help them adapt to the new technology.

"This is my summary. The application of the VAR system by the PGMOL at the moment is flawed," he said.

"Errors are not being corrected because the match referee is not reviewing the pitchside monitor to see for himself what has taken place.

"There needs to be work with a sports psychologist to get over the relationship between the referee and the VAR, so the VAR has the confidence to tell his colleague 'you're wrong - have a look', not this happy, patty, nicey nicey, 'yeah, I'm OK, it wasn't a foul mate, you got it right, brilliant, well done.' They are kidding each other.

"So that's the second point - the relationship between the referee and the VAR, and it's got to be stronger, firmer, and to have some form of team accountability that says 'I want to get every decision right, I don't want to leave anybody in any doubt'."