Pierluigi Collina explains the updated IFAB guidelines on handball and offside are ‘not modifications, but clarification’ and why referees must use the on-field monitor.
The sport is changing after the COVID-19 lockdown, with five substitutions allowed rather than three to combat fatigue in the heat of summer, while the IFAB has updated its guidelines on handling offences.
“It’s not exactly that the rules have been modified, but rather they are clarified,” Collina told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
“The five substitutions is a temporary change to protect the health of players who are going to be on the field more often.
“When it comes to handball, the definition has been set for the difference between arm and shoulder. It’s also important that there’s a better definition of how close a handling offence has to be to a goal or scoring opportunity in order to affect the outcome.
“The IFAB is not made up of bigwigs or people from a parallel universe. It’s a panel of coaches, ex-players and referees who consider the rules that ought to be improved or changed.”
Another issue that caused controversy, more so in England than elsewhere, is that of offside, and UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin also called for more ‘tolerance’ than mere millimetres.
“Tolerance doesn’t resolve the problem, it just moves it,” argues Collina. “You can go from 0 to 10cm, but at 11cm the problem remains. We are evaluating whether a marginal offside position is so relevant that it becomes punishable.
“When it comes to goal-line technology, we have a guarantee of millimetres. With VAR and offside, there is inevitably a human component to the analysis and therefore a margin of error. If the images show certainty of offside, of a foul inside or outside the area, then it should be used, otherwise the decision made on the field is valid.”
While in the Premier League there are complaints that VAR is used too much, Serie A clubs and pundits protest it isn’t used enough.
“VAR was created to help the referee make crucial decisions, not to officiate the game all over again,” continued the legendary official.
“Nobody thought we should go back and check on everything, as games would take forever. VAR was first mentioned in November 2014, so in five-and-a-half years we went from zero to having VAR in all the most important tournaments.
“The process is still going, it will be improved and understood better too, including by those who spent most of their careers with the modus operandi of making a decision and defending it.
“Technology is an opportunity that ought to be used. If I am in front of a monitor and say ‘it’s best if you look at that again,’ I am trying to help you. I am not trying to break down any kind of solidarity or create trouble.”
Again, the Premier League broke with the other competitions by refusing to use the pitch-side monitor for an on-field review, instead leaving decisions up to the VAR in the booth.
“Nobody, including referees, like to be told they got it wrong. This is why there is the opportunity for him to view it himself and react accordingly. If I see it for myself, I can metabolise that decision better. If I just get told in an earpiece that I have to change my decision, I’ll keep thinking and wondering what I got wrong. The psychological component for a referee is fundamental.
“Some at the start wanted us to just tell the referee via earpiece what he had to do, but in the end, that would’ve been like having a joystick and refereeing remotely. We mustn’t remove the final decision from the referee on the pitch.”
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