Mark Clattenburg exclusive: Why VAR has gone wrong in the FA Cup this season

Kevin Palmer

Mark Clattenburg believes VAR has been used incorrectly in the FA Cup this season

Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg believes the VAR replay system designed to help match officials has been used incorrectly in this season’s FA Cup, as he hit out at the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) in an exclusive interview with Yahoo Sport.

The introduction of VAR in the FA Cup this season was viewed as a testing ground for English football, yet the move to scrutinise every decision rather than focusing on clear errors has created confusion and controversy in numerous games.

Now Paddy Power ambassador Clattenburg has pointed an accusing finger at the PGMOL, who he believes have overseen a shambolic introduction of a system that has the potential to be a huge help to all match officials.

“The use of VAR in the FA Cup in England this season has been a problem and we have to say the PGMOL got it wrong,” Clattenburg told us. “They have tried to scrutinise every decision and that is not what VAR should be used for.

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“It is there to stop the scandals, there to stop the Frank Lampard incident in the England v Germany game in 2010, there it clear-up obvious errors.

“I look at the Abdoulaye Doucoure handball in the Watford v Southampton game in January as a classic example of when VAR is needed. A late goal, the officials have missed a clear handball and Southampton are denied a vital win, but that mistake could have been picked up, cleared up and the result of the game would have been altered.

“The FA Cup tie between Tottenham and Rochdale was a night when VAR used wrong. They made the wrong decisions and the video replays added to the confusion, getting decisions wrong again.

“What you don’t want is for every nudge, every little push to be analysed and scrutinised. That is not what we need technology for. That is part and parcel of the wonderful world of football that we have all loved for so many years.”

Clattenburg has been overseeing the introduction over video technology for referees in his new job in Saudi Arabia and he suggests communication with supporters will be vital to ensuring the system enhances English football.

“The whole process needs to be far more transparent,” he suggests. “The referee needs to be able to be heard by the crowd and the TV viewers so they understand what is going on.

“The big screen needs to show the decision and the audio would allow people to appreciate what is happening, but it feels like no one knows what is going on at the moment and that confusion could be removed very easily if we can hear the officials talking to each other and explaining why they are looking at a video replay.


“We took some time to get goal line technology right and when it was introduced to the game, it was a tried and tested system that was proven to work. What we have done with VAR is rushed it through to try and have it ready for the World Cup and as a result, we are seeing all these high profile mistakes being made and the confusion that no-one needs.

“What we cannot do is dismiss it because everyone wants VAR. Yes there are teething problems, but we can iron them out and if the PGMOL show some common sense, we can make this work for the benefit of our game. Let’s what and see if they can do that.”

VAR will be used in this Saturday’s FA Cup final between Chelsea and Manchester United at Wembley and at this summer’s World Cup finals, with Clattenburg convinced the latter tournament will not be ruined by refereeing controversies.

“You cannot compare what we have seen in the FA Cup this season to what will happen in the World Cup,” added Clattenburg. “FIFA are using it for clear errors, like the Frank Lampard goal against Germany in 2010 that was clearly over the line and was not given.

“That is what we should have seen in the FA Cup this season, but checking every decision is the wrong way to go. I wouldn’t have too many concerns about the World Cup, but VAR could be an issue in the FA Cup final if the technology is used incorrectly once again.”

Mark Clattenburg is refereeing the CONIFA World Football Cup in London, which kicks off on May 31 and can be watched through Paddy Power’s social media channels.