Melbourne City’s Osama Malik is sent off against Perth Glory last month following a VAR review.
Melbourne City’s Osama Malik is sent off against Perth Glory last month following a VAR review.

A-League changes VAR rules

A-LEAGUE bosses will change the rules of the global experiment with video refereeing in a bid to staunch the growing wave of hostility from fans and players.

In a memo sent to the A-League clubs on Wednesday, detailing changes to the VAR system, competition boss Greg O'Rourke admitted the revised guidelines for video refs for this weekend's games "are not completely in line with the trial protocol" established by FIFA and used in competitions from the MLS to Serie A.

Under the revised regime, match referees are instructed not to review an incident on a pitchside monitor "unless absolutely necessary", with the argument being that as the VAR should only have become involved to rectify an absolutely clear error, the match referee should be prepared to take the VAR's word in most situations.

This goes against the FIFA protocol which emphasises the primacy of the match referee, but the sight of referees speaking to the VAR for some time only then to re-review the same footage themselves has sparked fury among supporters.

The new guidelines also warn VARs not to review bad tackles that have been punished by a yellow card - as happened twice in the Mariners' loss to Western Sydney last Saturday night, leading to two expulsions.

Melbourne City’s Osama Malik is sent off against Perth Glory last month following a VAR review.
Melbourne City’s Osama Malik is sent off against Perth Glory last month following a VAR review.

"The on field referees should back themselves to identify the appropriate sanction," the memo says.

In the wake of criticism from players that games are effectively being re-refereed, the VARs are told to confine their interventions to the most serious, game-changing incidents.

"In simple terms don't go looking for infringements that are by definition not match changing," the memo says.

The extent to which the VAR has pervaded games is illustrated by the re-emphasis on four key areas that were meant to be the limit of the video ref's ambit: goals when the ball has gone over the line or when a player is offside, incidents where a defender has fouled a player or handled the ball in his own box, and "Fouls in the attacking phase by the attacking team in the lead up to a goal".



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