VAR offside decisions might be wrong because ball travels faster than on video

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VAR offside decisions can be dodgy because the ball tends to travel slightly faster than the video shows, scientists say.

This means when referees look at it on the side of the pitch, they think it was kicked later than it actually was. And this could sometimes potentially result in the wrong decision such as whether a player was offside at the time, the research suggests.

Dr Pooya Soltani, from the University of Bath, filmed a player receiving the ball from a team-mate, viewed from different camera angles, while recording the 3D positions of the ball and players using optical motion capture cameras.

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Participants viewing the clips were asked to determine the exact moment of the kick and judge whether the ball receiver was offside. On average, they thought the ball was kicked 132 milliseconds later.

Dr Soltani says in a “fast-paced game” it could be long enough for the players to be in a different location and “therefore could potentially change the outcomes of offside”.

He added: “This goes to show that whilst VAR is useful to spot obvious errors, it shouldn’t be relied upon completely to make referee decisions.”

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The experts suggested VAR’s accuracy could be improved by using higher frame-rate cameras that would record the movement of the ball in slower motion.

The Premier League adopted video replays in 2019 to help referees review decisions for goals, red cards, penalties and offsides.

Pundits like Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer have questioned the accuracy and application of video replays following controversial decisions which can change the course of a game.


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