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29th Mar 2021

Premier League plan introduction of semi-automatic VAR to help with offside calls

Simon Lloyd

The Premier League is exploring ways to improve the system currently in place for offside decisions

VAR, whether we like it or not, is here to stay.

While it seems barely a Premier League weekend passes without some form of VAR-related controversy, there’s very little to suggest the powers that be have any plans to scrap it.

Following the almost laughably painstaking lengths VAR officials have gone to in determining the very tightest of offside calls – pixels, armpits, etc., etc… – the Premier League are said to be exploring ways to improve precision and cut the delays to play such decisions often take.

According to David Ornstein in The Athletic, a number of controversial calls has led the Premier League to discuss the adoption of ‘semi-automatic’ offside calls. This would work by the introduction of even more technology, including player-tracking cameras.

Although it is hoped such technology will be ready for the dawn of the 2022/23 season, the article states that there is plenty of work to be done on the system before it is given the green light by Fifa for use in the English top flight.

The idea was briefly mentioned during a Premier League meeting last week, with semi-automatic offsides having been trialled successfully during the Fifa Club World Cup which was hosted in Qatar earlier this year. It can be seen during its testing phase from the 1:33 mark of the video below.

Should the new technology be approved, those operating VAR at the Premier League’s HQ at Stockley Park would be able to access instant images displaying precise offside lines, thus dramatically slashing the delays currently in place.

In doing so, officials could be alerted in seconds, with the game halted before a play has finished – reducing the risk of injury to a player.