Whether or not to introduce video assistant referees to Premier League football has been a big talking point this season.
Many other countries, including Italy and Germany, have added the system to their top flights already and Arsène Wenger has been impressed with how well the officials used the technology to inform their decisions.
VAR is set to be used in France and Spain from 2018/19 onwards and, after Sunday’s game against West Bromwich Albion, the boss is in favour of introducing the system in England, as long as it does not affect the flow of the game.
on how referees need to look after the game now…
Sometimes I say to the fourth official, when after five minutes the goalkeeper starts to waste time, ‘Look up there, there are people who pay a lot of money to watch football. You are responsible to make sure that football happens on the pitch’. For me, they have to serve the game like we have to serve the game, and to try to give positive emotions to people who love football in the stand. That’s what they have to do. They have not to be the star. We have to respect the game as people want it to be played. That’s our responsibility. It’s not [appropriate] any more, in 2018, that the guy calls a player, speaks half a minute, or a minute to him, to say, ‘Look, you have to behave properly’. That is gone. That is not the rhythm of a modern society. People want crisp, sharp action, and the referee has to make sure that that happens. This is the 1950s, where the guy talks to him… ’If you’re not nice, I might punish you’. Come on, let’s not waste time. What does it help for the game? Nothing. Nothing happens. People who sit in the stand don’t want to see that. They want to see, ‘Come on, let’s get on with it and play’. That’s our responsibility. We don’t live in the dark ages.
on whether video assistant referees should be introduced in the Premier League…
It’s inevitable because the referee can get help and become more efficient – and he can gain time, contrary to what people say. Of course, if we go the way where the referee walks down the side of the pitch and watches a screen, I say, ‘Leave it at home’. That means, ‘I just want to make every single decision. I want to be the boss’. [In that case] let’s forget it because that is not serious, and not the way we want to see the game going. If somebody upstairs quicker than he does tells him, ‘Go, let it go,’ that’s what we want. It’s not that he walks down the side of the pitch and watches a screen, and the people in the stand freeze up there until he has made a decision. That’s not what we want. If it’s [like] that, I personally am against it.
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