Unai Emery says VAR will be ‘amazing’ when it starts to reduce the mistakes of officials but for the moment he thinks it’s not being used in the correct way.
Facing the media after Arsenal drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace – a game that saw the visitors correctly awarded a penalty by Stockley Park and a potential match-winning goal by Sokratis controversially chalked off by the same officials – the Spaniard claimed replays are being used inconsistently and called on referees to take more responsibility for decisions by using the monitors at the side of the pitch to check incidents.
Citing a failure to award penalties to his side in recent encounters with Bournemouth and Sheffield United as evidence, Emery told his post-game press conference: “VAR is very important, above all for the referees because it’s very important to reduce their mistakes.
“VAR has come in and we’ve decided to have it for this reason. When the referees use that in the right way, I think it’s going to be amazing because it will reduce the referees’ mistakes.
“Now, we have started not checking a lot of actions because we don’t want to stop the rhythm or the pace of the match. OK, but we also need to check the important ones.
“For example, against Bournemouth the penalty on Pepe. Last week [at Sheffield United], the penalty on Sokratis. They were very clear and in the match, it’s a penalty.
“OK, they didn’t check because the referee didn’t watch it and decided he didn’t want to check it. This evening, maybe this week, they are starting to check more because they are thinking they need to check more actions because a lot of difficult decisions for the referee are coming, and they want to take more time to check that.
“Also, for me the penalty was perfect because they decided it was a penalty. It’s perfect because it helped the referee in this action. But our goal, the third goal, he is not fouled.
“That is not a foul. Who is the person who checked that? If the referee watched that action on the TV, I am sure he would not decide that it was a foul. In the office with the TV, I don’t know who the person is who decides this.”
He added: ”I think he [referee Martin Atkinson] needed to watch it again. He needed to do that. VAR is positive and it will be better, but only when them and us can manage it better with the rhythm and the decisions. I checked in the dressing room after we finished the match.
“We lost two points to that tonight. The next step is that they will check. We have cameras on the pitch, but here I don’t remember a single referee going to check on the touchline.
“I don’t remember that. The next step will be that. VAR is to help the referees, but also to watch or to take the best decision with your own eyes.”