PGMOL boss Howard Webb urges VAR to change after Wolves v Newcastle penalty howler
PGMOL chief Howard Webb has urged VAR officials to challenge on-field referees more after Wolves suffered a controversial penalty against Newcastle.
In a decision head coach Gary O'Neil branded 'scandalous', referee Anthony Taylor gave a penalty against Hwang Hee-chan for allegedly fouling Fabian Schar, despite the Magpies defender seeming to kick the turf and initiate contact on his way to the ground.
A lengthy VAR check did not overturn the decision as Callum Wilson scored the spot-kick, before Hwang eventually equalised in the 2-2 draw.
With a 'clear and obvious' mandate for overturning decisions, VAR official Jarred Gillett stood by the penalty call and in audio released of the incident, Gillett believes Hwang made contact with Schar after missing the ball.
However, the Premier League’s Independent Key Match Incidents Panel, consisting of five people, unanimously ruled it was the incorrect on-field decision, with four out of five saying VAR should have overturned it.
Now, PGMOL's chief refereeing officer Webb has urged VAR to ask the on-field official what they saw and then recommend a review of the monitor if they have a difference of opinion.
He said: "We said from the outset that VAR shouldn't referee the game, it should reserve itself for clear situations when a clear error has occurred on the field and the VAR steps in to have that rectified.
“The VAR is looking for clear evidence of that error and weighing up the different considerations. For example, has the defender played the ball? Is there any contact between the players? In this situation we see that Hwang doesn't actually play the ball, the ball is played onto him by Schar and then there's contact between the two of them, but what the referee is seeing in real-time is Hwang bring that leg through, making contact with Schar.
"When we see the replay we can see that Hwang actually pulls his swing back a little bit, stops it from going right through, and Schar just brings his foot through and there's contact. We feel that this is a situation that reaches the threshold for being a clear and obvious error, even though there's contact and even though the ball isn't played by Hwang.
"We're asking the VARs, going forward with our instruction to have a look at it, to see where the considerations sit and if they don't like the decision on the field, ask the referee what they saw and if it's significantly different to what's been shown on the video, then recommend a review so that the referee can go to the screen and look at it again for himself. The starting point that the VAR thinks it's a clear error. In this situation the VAR didn't quite get there and in our opinion should have done."
When asked about the high bar for VAR interference, Webb added: "We think the high bar for intervention, which we apply, which UEFA apply as well, is good for consistency. There's a lot of subjective situations in our game which splits opinion.
“We don't want too much interference. We've seen negative comments about over-interference by VAR so by reserving it for clear situations, then we feel it serves the game best. Recognising those clear situations is important – it's where we put a lot of our time and effort into the training and this type of situation reaches that threshold, and that's the advice we've given to our VARs going forward."