UEFA boss Ceferin urges referees to make decisions not ‘people hidden in a van’

By Jamie Gardner, PA Chief Sports Reporter

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin insists referees have to be given the final say on decisions rather than someone “hidden in a van or a building 500 kilometres from the venue”.

The Slovenian called the VAR system in its current form “a mess” in an interview with the Daily Mirror and has called for greater clarity around handball and offside decisions.

His main concern seems to be some of the marginal offside calls that cannot be detected by the naked eye, with decisions coming after lengthy reviews.

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While he did not directly criticise the Premier League, which advises referees to use pitchside monitors sparingly and instead be guided in most circumstances by the remote VAR, he did indicate his belief that referees should be allowed to take responsibility.

His comments came a day after former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, now chief of global football development at world governing body FIFA, called on the Premier League to let referees make greater use of pitchside monitors.

“The idea of UEFA referees’ committee is that it’s always the decision of the referee on the pitch,” Ceferin said.

“The referees on the pitch have to take responsibility and not some people hidden somewhere in a van or in a building 500 kilometres from the venue. Referees should decide.

“I know UEFA doesn’t have as many interventions as other leagues have, and if you see the approach of different leagues it’s quite confusing. In the Premier League they don’t check at all, in Italy they check every time almost.”

Arsene Wenger believes Premier League referees should be encouraged to use pitchside monitors (Mike Egerton/PA)
Arsene Wenger believes Premier League referees should be encouraged to use pitchside monitors (Mike Egerton/PA)

Ceferin says UEFA’s view on VAR is that it should be used for clear and obvious mistakes only.

“I can live with uncertainty and I can live with the fact that referees are human beings who make mistakes,” he said.

“But now where technology makes a mistake that’s a bigger problem, and we still don’t know which handball is handball, we don’t know who is drawing the lines, how thick the lines are.

“Is it the meaning of offside that if you are in an offside position of one centimetre, is that enough? Does it change the game? There are many questions ahead. I would prefer football to stay as close as possible as it is for hundreds of years.”

Ceferin said in the Mirror interview that there was “no going back” on VAR.

VAR decisions have become a key, if controversial, part of life in the Premier League (Nick Potts/PA)
VAR decisions have become a key, if controversial, part of life in the Premier League (Nick Potts/PA)

Asked on Wednesday to expand on that, he said: “Because there will always be teams who will think that they lost because VAR does not exist.

“We always complain because of a mistake. I can say that in my country everybody was complaining when a ball touched the hand of a player of the Austrian team during the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

“With technology we have to make it clearer, we have to make it faster, less invasive. But it will stay, and I don’t say it’s a bad thing.

“I just say that it’s far from clear and that’s why we have to try to improve it.”

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