Lee Probert spent greater than 20 years as a referee and took cost of the 2014 FA Cup ultimate. He officiated within the Premier League from 2007 till he retired on medical grounds in 2019.
With debate persevering with about the usual of officiating within the Premier League, Probert talks concerning the handball rule, VAR and the worry of the ‘Match of the Day mistake’ in a column for BBC Sport.
‘That’s how daft the handball legislation is’
Handball is a minefield. It all the time has been. There have been issues with the principles and as we noticed in Fulham’s defeat to Tottenham on Thursday, loads of controversy.
Fulham’s Mario Lemina had no probability of avoiding Davinson Sanchez’s tried clearance so it was no marvel Cottagers’ boss Scott Parker was indignant to see Josh Maja’s ‘purpose’ chalked off.
It did not matter that Lemina’s hand was down by his facet or that it was unintentional. The guidelines as they stood on Thursday meant it couldn’t be allowed as a result of the ball struck a hand or arm within the construct up.
Curiously, although, a defender wouldn’t count on to concede a penalty in the identical circumstances.
That’s how daft the legislation is and why soccer’s legislation makers – the International Football Association Board – introduced modifications on Friday to return to one thing that officers and soccer can perceive for subsequent season.
It comes too late for Fulham, however widespread sense looks like it will be utilized eventually.
‘VAR is not ruining soccer’
Managers, gamers and pundits have criticised VAR for its impression on the sport, whereas in a ballot for BBC Sport, solely a 3rd of football fans throughout the UK stated they imagine VAR has made soccer higher.
I’ve all the time discovered unhealthy choices arrived in waves however for the time being we appear to be discussing refereeing choices each week. People say VAR is ruining soccer, but it surely is not. Things like offside are factual. They are black-and-white choices.
The drawback is a few issues are open to totally different interpretations. If you haven’t any clear definition of what constitutes a handball, you are going to get totally different choices from week to week.
And once you add that to the actual fact there’s a sport practically each night time for the time being, it turns into an more and more troublesome job.
The present schedule doesn’t permit for a lot restoration time so fatigue, accidents and psychological tiredness all come into play for each gamers and officers.
It’s not like in regular instances and officers are the identical as everybody else within the public. They are usually not getting collectively as regular and if you find yourself off you are caught at house and mentally drained and weary from the pandemic.
I’ve seen former referees and pundits questioning the competency of present officers, which is gloomy and disappointing.
Standards and health ranges have improved however for the time being it is a transition interval and they’re simple targets.
Everyone has acquired a howler in them, everyone knows that. When it occurs it’s usually going to be an enormous speaking level however referees are solely human. Having stated that, good referees make minimal errors.
There is all the time this suggestion that referees ought to be capable of apply widespread sense however there has by no means been a ‘widespread sense’ legislation. Players simply need to have the ability to discuss to the referee, know they’ve an empathy for the sport and perceive the place they’re coming from.
‘The Match of the Day mistake’
Manchester United felt aggrieved to not obtain a penalty of their 0-0 draw at Chelsea final Sunday, with referee Stuart Attwell dismissing an enchantment for handball towards Callum Hudson-Odoi after he was instructed to seek the advice of a pitchside monitor by the video assistant referee.
I’ve been on this place loads of instances. Two gamers (Mason Greenwood and Callum Hudson-Odoi) come collectively and you’ll’t actually see what’s occurred.
It’s one thing we used to seek advice from because the ‘Match of the Day mistake’, the place you solely know it is a penalty after driving house and watching the highlights.
However, on this occasion the legislation – which says ‘intentionally touches the ball with the hand or the arm, transferring in direction of the ball’ – and VAR ought to come to the rescue because it tells the referee it’s one thing he has missed and wishes to have a look at.
I did not perceive why the penalty was not given as a result of Hudson-Odoi’s hand strikes in direction of the ball – however the on-pitch referee is the choice maker and it’s their interpretation.
At least it is a step away from earlier within the season, when ridiculous choices have been being given.
The penalties awarded towards Tottenham’s Eric Dier and Crystal Palace defender Joel Ward have been by no means handball in one million years and that is why the Premier League lobbied Ifab for modifications early on.
Confusion on the Hawthorns
Brighton thought that they had equalised at West Brom last Saturday however noticed Lewis Dunk’s fast free-kick dominated out after referee Lee Mason had blown his whistle twice and consulted VAR.
Both managers and units of gamers appeared confused on this sport but it surely had nothing to do with VAR, or decoding the principles. It was a state of affairs the place you need the referee Lee Mason to take extra management.
The restart occurs to be a Brighton free-kick so it comes all the way down to being on the scene and good organisation. If you permit Lewis Dunk to take it shortly and he places it huge or over the bar that is his drawback.
The unhappy factor is the referee blows his whistle a second time earlier than the ball cross the purpose line. That begins the protocol for VAR to examine the purpose and the principles say it could possibly’t stand.
It’s not VAR’s fault. The video assistant referee has retrieved the state of affairs as a result of the administration of the free-kick was not so good as it ought to have been.
Lee Probert was chatting with BBC Sport’s Steve Sutcliffe.