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06th Sep 2023

Premier League release audio footage from most controversial VAR decisions this season

Callum Boyle

Premier League

Arsenal and Wolves fans will not be happy

The Premier League have finally released audio footage from some of the decisions involving VAR this season.

VAR has been a controversial topic ever since it’s introduction and it has caused a stir once again with two of the most contentious decisions involving Manchester United.

Referee Simon Hooper’s decision not to punish Man United goalkeeper Andre Onana for a collision with Wolves’ Sasa Kalajdzic on the opening day of the season was the first of those and the head of the PGMOL, Howard Webb, explained why.

Speaking on their first Match Officials Mic’d Up show, Webb shared audio footage of the conversation between Hooper and VAR official on the night, Michael Salisbury.

Hooper said: “No way. It’s like collisions, we don’t give those.”

Salisbury then replied: “Delay, delay, checking a possible penalty. I want to view this, because I think Onana collides into, he tried to win the ball but he’s late. He goes to challenge for the ball and then makes aerial contact with the Wolves player.

“It’s late and it’s clumsy in my opinion. Dawson wins the header. It’s late, it’s very late on the aerial challenge.”

He then adds: “Because the Wolves player doesn’t head the ball – Dawson wins the header – it’s a normal collision. Check complete,” which is deemed reasonable enough by Hooper.

Webb then expanded on the decision not to award a spot kick and why it was the wrong call.

“We hear the VAR in this circumstance going through the checking phase and he’s describing what he’s seen,” he said.

“He starts to go down the road to recommending a review, but he overthinks it a little bit. 

“Sometimes VAR can do that. They’re trying to identify what the game would expect and when he sees them come together, he knows that can happen and it’s not a foul.

“He sees it as a collision and two players coming together – the difference with this one, is that Onana jumps in at the Wolves player so it’s not two players coming together. It’s one going into another.

“In the end we didn’t recommend a review…we should have done, we acknowledge that as an error, which is of course disappointing.

“We think it’s important we acknowledge clear errors. When it’s clear like this one, we don’t want people to benchmark against this situation.”

Premier League

Another decision which has been met with controversy is from Sunday’s game between Arsenal and Man United in which the Gunners weren’t awarded a penalty for a foul on Kai Havertz.

Havertz felt he was tripped in the box by Casemiro and referee Anthony Taylor had initially pointed to the spot before having his decision overturned by VAR.

Webb said: “I was watching this game and thought to myself, that looks like a penalty kick. 

“At full speed as Kai Havertz goes between Wan-Bissaka and Casemiro. The penalty was given and we know that the VAR will always check every penalty situation.

“It was a good use of VAR. The referee believed that Wan-Bissaka had tripped Havertz, but the video shows something quite different that there’s no actual contact initially.

“Another step by Havertz, his leg goes into Wan-Bissaka. The VAR, really calm and concise, recognises all of that, thinks it’s a clear and obvious error. I agree. Recommends a review. We get to the right decision.”

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