English top-flight officials have enlisted an interesting source in an attempt to simplify VAR conversations during games. According to a report by The Times, Premier League referees held a meeting with airline pilots from British Airways to better communicate under pressure.

The move comes nearly two months after the biggest Premier League VAR blunder of the current campaign. Liverpool winger Luis Diaz was wrongly denied a goal against Tottenham Hotspur after miscommunication caused confusion in the replay review. VAR Darren England and his assistant Dan Cook assumed that pitchside referees allowed the goal as Diaz was onside.

Match referee Simon Hooper, however, had initially chalked off the goal because his assistant flagged Diaz for offside. England and Cook should have known this and corrected the call in the VAR review. Nevertheless, the duo allowed play to continue, effectively disallowing the goal. VAR officials quickly realized their mistake, but it was too late to make the change.

Airline Pilots recommend simplified Premier League discussions

Although a bit unusual, the decision to schedule the meeting with the pilots does make sense. Pilots have to deal with tense landing and takeoff situations throughout their daily routines. This comprises quick and important simultaneous discussions with air traffic control, ground staff, and the cabin’s crew.

The two pilots involved in the meeting, Chris Heaven and Pete Nataraj, conducted a presentation to the league and referees. The two suggested simplifying what is said between the officials during a VAR review. This includes avoiding informal pleasantries such as “well done, boys, good process … cheers, mate.”

VAR discussions have taken a significant amount of time, often leaving the game without any energy.

Along with getting rid of excess filler, the pilots also recommended that the VAR discussions be short and simple. Not only can multiple officials potentially talk at the same time, but there is also crowd noise to deal with. These factors, say the pilots, mean that there should essentially be specific and simplistic language in the discussions.

The call for a simplification of talk between the officials was backed up by previous incidents during VAR reviews. One official in the aforementioned Diaz situation plainly said “give it” at one point in the review. However, there was some confusion if he was referring to the goal or the offside.

Another potential complication involved names of the officials making the VAR decisions. The fourth official in the Liverpool match was Michael Oliver. However, Oli Kohout was also the VAR Hub operations executive back at headquarters.

Many fans still want VAR in Premier League

While Premier League officials have made a mess of VAR reviews as of late, fans want the technology to remain in place. According to a poll for the aforementioned news outlet, 79% of those asked want to keep VAR. Nevertheless, most of those wanting VAR in place are also asking for significant changes to the current setup.

Over 75% of those polled opted in favor of live broadcasts of referee conversations during matches. Also, 66% of fans were even in favor of a specific time limit for reviews. Just 18% of the supporters want VAR completely scrapped. The remaining 3% were unsure of an opinion on the question regarding VAR. The study polled 722 people.

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