With Video Review in MLS commencing on August 5, in the latest Play of the Week we are discussing the implications it would have on a play from Week 20. The play is from the game between Minnesota United and New York Red Bulls.
As United’s Miguel Ibarra goes down inside the opposition penalty area under pressure from Red Bulls defender Michael Murillo, you can see referee Hilario Grajeda’s intelligent positioning, sacrificing distance for angle and enabling him to judge a potential PK from the best possible position – and he decides not to award a PK.
You can see the initial reaction of Ibarra, who makes his frustration clear to AR, Anthony Vasoli. Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles rolls the ball out and his team immediately launch a counter attack. The ball gets played up-field to Bradley Wright-Phillips, the flag is correctly not raised by AR Claudio Badea as Wright-Phillips is level with the second last defender, and the striker takes one touch to get the ball under control and another to score.
This adds to the frustrations of United. You can see that coach Adrian Heath is not too pleased, and Grajeda has cause to issue a yellow card to United’s Ibson for dissent, which is one of the current “Points of Emphasis”.
It will be interesting to see if dissent is reduced when Video Review is introduced, with players knowing that the incident would be checked. IFAB have made it clear that if a yellow card is produced it will not be overturned following the review, even if the outcome was to change the decision.
So, what would be the implications on this play with Video Review?
Well, as there was a potential PK, the VAR would immediately be checking that play and if it was felt there was a clear error then he would communicate to the referee and recommend a review. But would there be sufficient time before the goal was scored? We asked Howard Webb, PRO’s Manager of Video Assistant Referee Operations, for his thoughts:
“In this case, there would have been insufficient time for the VAR to finish his/her check of the penalty situation prior to the commencement of the counter attack by NYRB, which starts really when their goalkeeper releases the ball.
“If during that attack the VAR had finished his check and, hypothetically speaking, identified a clear error by the referee in not awarding a penalty kick, he/she would communicate to the referee and recommend a review – but the referee would not stop play during the attack by NYRB.
“It is possible that when the referee conducts the review by watching the pitch side monitor in the Referee Review Area he doesn’t concur with the VAR that a clear error has been identified and therefore maintains his on-field call, in which case there is no way to restart the NYRB attacking move which he stopped by blowing his whistle to undertake the review. Instead he will allow play to continue and only conduct the review at the next stoppage or when the ball is next in a neutral zone, when no team has an attacking advantage.
“Of course, if the review confirmed a clear error in the non-award of the penalty, the goal would be disallowed and the penalty awarded.”
In this play, this is not a clear error by the referee not to award the penalty kick and as such the VAR would check this, probably in a silent way with no communication to the referee. There would be no need to stop the game. If the ball went out of play while the VAR was still checking the incident, the restart would be delayed – the referee would give a signal to everybody that this was happening by holding his finger to his earpiece – until the check was completed, in which case the VAR would confirm to the referee that he had finished the check by using the words ‘check complete’.
However, if it was a clear error by the referee not to award the PK, as Howard said, in this case the Red Bulls goal would be disallowed and the PK awarded to Minnesota.
Video Review will present us with an additional tool to avoid clear errors from being made or serious missed incident from being missed… we are looking forward to this opportunity, even though there will be some challenges along the way!