Every week, there is a new Video Assistant Referee (VAR) controversy. The debate regarding the protocol reached its pinnacle during a fiasco involving Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in September. The Reds were wrongly denied a goal due to “human error” and ultimately lost the match.

Following that, the latest VAR debacles occurred within the last few days. Newcastle grabbed a winning goal against Arsenal on Saturday despite replays showing defender Gabriel was fouled by Magpies midfielder Joelinton. A matchup between Chelsea and Spurs was then marred by many excruciatingly long VAR reviews on Monday.

When will the madness end?

More VAR reviews are coming to the Premier League

Despite calls to change VAR in the Premier League, officials are unlikely to make significant alterations anytime soon. In fact, FA chief executive officer Mark Bullingham recently announced that video replays may soon expand. This means that VAR will be able to review even more incidents. This apparently includes awarding corner kicks and free kicks.

While VAR is one of, if not the most, debatable topic in the Premier League, most will agree that more replay is not the answer. For the English top flight to continue being labeled as the best league, changes have to happen.

Premier League VAR changes: It needs to start with the rulebook

VAR was first introduced in the Premier League ahead of the 2019/20 season. On paper, the ability to correct wrong on-field decisions by using replay seemed like a positive move. Many assumed that controversial calls would drastically decrease with the establishment of VAR. Nevertheless, this just hasn’t been the case.

Many professional sports leagues have benefited from the implementation of video replay. Soccer, however, has been noticeably different. VAR has seemingly not been as successful partially due to different rule interpretations in the sport.

The handball rule, for instance, is currently debatable. One specific handball incident can, and usually does, have a wide range of opinions. Offside is another law that is not exactly cut and dried. A recent incident involving Manchester United defender Harry Maguire is a perfect example of this. Maguire, despite not touching the ball, was ruled to have affected play. As a result, the Red Devils had a potential goal disallowed for offside.

A simplification of the current rulebook would seemingly help limit confusion on certain calls. Instead of streamlining the laws, the Premier League tweaked the rules to add even more guidelines ahead of the current campaign.

Semi-automated offside technology would help make quicker calls

Another key alteration to VAR should be the introduction of semi-automated offside technology. Current offside calls in the Premier League can sometimes take multiple minutes to come to a conclusion. There is also human error involved in these decisions as well.

Former VAR official Lee Mason actually forgot to draw computerized offside lines on the screen during a matchup between Arsenal and Brentford in February. The Gunners should have won the game, but the Bees were wrongly awarded a tying goal because of the blunder. Mason has since retired from the position. However, he was quickly hired to train referees by Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) this summer.

Semi-automated offside technology is currently in use in UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League, as well as Serie A. The technology is incredibly accurate and fast. In fact, offside decisions can be made in a matter of a few seconds. Implementing this technology in the Premier League would help get decisions right and save atmosphere concerns inside stadiums.

While introducing the technology is desperately needed, it will likely not arrive in the Premier League soon. One of the key reasons for the delay is that Nike, the official ball of the English top flight, has yet to even test the technology. Adidas currently supplies soccer balls for the aforementioned UEFA tournaments and the Italian league.

Premier League has to put pressure on PGMOL and IFAB for the good of the game

Even with semi-automated offside technology, the Premier League needs to raise the standard of officiating in the league. Whether that means hiring referees from other countries or changing the VAR protocols, the refereeing has to improve. For a league that is arguably the best in the world, the implementation of VAR has been an embarrassment.

The Premier League needs to step in to take control of the situation. Otherwise, it risks losing its global appeal. Fans are getting tired of the VAR show.

As NBC Sports commentator Jon Champion eloquently put it during the Spurs-Chelsea game on Monday, “All we’ve come here for is to see a decent game of football, not people playing around with video machines. This 1st half has been as scarred by VAR intervention as any I can remember.”

NBC Sports co-commentator Graeme Le Saux added, “Every single piece of contact is being reviewed. You may as well take the referee off the pitch and just let the VAR ref the game.” Well said.

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