Mark Halsey: What needs to happen before VAR comes to the Premier League

Mark Halsey wants experienced referees to take charge of VAR
Mark Halsey wants experienced referees to take charge of VAR

Former Premier League and FIFA referee Mark Halsey has called for experienced ex-referees to be put in charge of VAR technology, as he believes extensive training and education is required before it is used in the Premier League.

While VAR was generally hailed as a success after it was introduced at this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia, Halsey has told Yahoo Sport that the technology needs to be fine tuned to ensure it has a positive impact.

“VAR will benefit the game in the long run, but we need more transparency around all the key decisions, and also extensive training and education for those being asked to use the technology,” Halsey told Yahoo Sport.

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“It was unfortunate that we had a controversial incident with the penalty awarded to France in the World Cup final because decisions like that can make a mockery of VAR and we should make sure we do everything possible to make best use of the technology.

“There were occasions in the World Cup when VAR was used when there wasn’t a clear error by the onfield match officials and it didn’t need to be used – but on decisions that were matters of fact, it worked very well.

“What we need before it is used in the Premier League is to iron out the problems with VAR and they were very evident at times during the World Cup.

VAR controversies dominated the World Cup, including the final between France and Croatia
VAR controversies dominated the World Cup, including the final between France and Croatia

“We clearly need more transparency to allow everyone watching to have a clear understanding of why a decision is made. In rugby, we see a decision on the big screen and can hear why the decision has been made via the referee’s microphone. That process needs to be introduced into football.

“We also need extensive training and education of those using the technology and I believe former referees who have worked at the highest level of the game should be used in that process. Only then should we consider introducing it in the Premier League.

Halsey went on to suggest VAR could add to the excitement of the sport if it was used correctly, but he revealed that trials by the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) in junior games in England have not been successful.

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“The PGMOL have used VAR in youth games and from what I have heard, it has not worked very well,” added Halsey. “That highlights the reality that we have a lot of work to do to get VAR to where we all believe it can be.

“There are always going to be problems when you introduce technology like this into a game that has never used it before and we need to make sure the people being asked to oversee VAR are experienced and given enough training and education to do the role in the right manner.”

Mark Halsey is a former Premier League referee and works with The Ref online as senior referee coach.