Harry Kane’s penalty box holding by Tunisia prompted VAR crackdown by FIFA | Football | Sport


Referees committee chairman Collina, who was named FIFA’s ‘Best Referee of the Year’ six consecutive times between 1998-2003, made the revelation when speaking about video assistant referees (VAR) in Moscow.

The Italian who many consider to be the greatest football referee of all time, was asked why Harry Kane was not given a penalty for being held during the match against Tunisia and also why Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic was not awarded a penalty when they played Switzerland.

Collina explained he would not comment on specific incidents, but said: “You might have appreciated there were some incidents that suddenly disappeared or started to be punished.

“It’s impossible to be right from the start but because we noticed, we intervened and we fine-tuned. Things have changed during the tournament.”

A stoppage-time header from Harry Kane gave England a 2-1 win over Tunisia in their opening World Cup Group G fixture. After the game England’s captain said:  “We could have had a couple of penalties, especially when you look at theirs. 

“A few corners, they were trying to grab, hold and stop us running. Maybe a bit of justice to score at the back post at the end. That’s football, that’s the ref.

“It showed good character to get on with it.”

Collina said he believes that VAR has been a huge success in Russia and while admitting it is “not perfect”, he argued it has helped referees make the correct decision. He also revealed that as well as asking referees to be more vigilant to wrestling in the penalty box, officials have been told they can ask for more on-field reviews than had initially been advised.

“We were aware VAR could interrupt the flow of play and time could be lost, so we wanted as few interventions as possible,” he said.

“But we noticed there were a few complaints – understandable complaints – about maybe doing more on-field reviews, so we thought it would be a good idea to do that so the decisions were better accepted on the field.”

48 games into the World Cup Collina said there have been 335 incidents checked, resulting in 14 on-field reviews made by referees and three reviews made by the VAR team on “factual decisions”, such as off-sides.

Of these incidents, referees had correctly called 95 per cent of them without VAR. However, when using replays, this improved making the correct call to 99.3 per cent.

“We have always said VAR doesn’t mean perfection – there could still be the wrong interpretation or a mistake – but I think you would agree 99.3 per cent is very close to perfection,” said Collina.

Collina was cautious about whether FIFA would consider allowing the audio between the Referee and VAR to be broadcast.

“Before running you have to learn to walk. I don’t know what’s possible in the future but I think it’s a bit early for that now,” he said.

“I agree it would be interesting, though, and would perhaps make decisions better accepted by the football community.”

VAR has raised concerns from some that it would cause delays to the game. 

During this year’s World Cup the ball has been in play for an average of nearly 57 minutes and this is up from 55 minutes during Brazil 2014. As for VAR on average a review has taken 80 seconds.

Former England international Stan Collymore said VAR could make the difference to winning or losing and backed the new system.

He tweeted: “World Cup VAR decisions. 95% correct without VAR. 99.3% correct with VAR.

“Decisions checked by VAR, 335. That 4.3% difference? Could be your team winning the league or not, a trophy or not, relegated or not.

“No brainer. VAR is working.”

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