VAR: Arsene Wenger urges referees to use pitchside monitors in Premier League

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VAR working much better than headlines would have you believe – Wenger

Ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wants the Premier League to end its resistance to the use of pitchside VAR monitors.

Premier League referees’ chief Mike Riley has cautioned against their use by on-field officials because of the additional time delay it would cause.

That goes against Uefa guidance and Wenger, Fifa’s newly-appointed head of global football development, wants the league to change its stance.

“The referee needs a monitor to check if he was right or wrong,” said Wenger.

Pitchside monitors have not been used in 140 Premier League games so far this season and the 70-year-old Frenchman feels that is a problem.

“For me, that is the most important worry,” said Wenger, speaking in Belfast after a meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body responsible for determining the laws of the game.

“The referees on the field are there because they have the experience and they are confident.”

Wenger does not want to make the use of the monitors mandatory, merely to allow the referees the option.

And he would like to see VAR decisions explained to supporters via big screens, although he acknowledged the lack of such screens at two of the league’s most famous grounds – Liverpool’s Anfield and Manchester United’s Old Trafford – was a “problem which has to be resolved”.

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Discussing the introduction of VAR in the Premier League more generally, Wenger said: “I honestly believe it is working much better than people think because I have witnessed many bad decisions before.

“Let’s not forget it is in its first year, so of course everything is not perfect. The adjustments will come. You have to educate people in the VAR to get them to intervene at the right moment.

“Let’s not forget that it is video assistance for the referee, so they [VAR] are not the ones who should make the decision but the ones who help the referee to make the right decision.”

Pitchside VAR monitors, as seen in use here during a Bundesliga match, have not been used in the Premier League this season

In a statement, IFAB accepted there was “a growing demand for more immediate information about the referee’s final decision” after VAR reviews.

Ways of communicating more effectively with broadcasters and supporters will be discussed in the coming weeks, with the aim of having concrete proposals in place in time for IFAB’s annual general meeting in Belfast on 29 February.

However, this is unlikely to involve referees wearing microphones to communicate decisions to spectators.

New concussion protocols were also discussed at the IFAB meeting.

An group comprising medical sports specialists and football experts will “identify possible options for in-game assessment”, with trials potentially taking place next season, not by Euro 2020 as had been suggested by some.

“It’s a very serious issue,” said Wenger. “We are all conscious the health and safety of the players is the priority.

“We will try to do what is requested to protect the players.”

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