VAR: It could take seven years

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Ruben Neves’ goal for Wolverhampton v Manchester United was checked by VAR, and later stood

The former referee in charge of implementing the video assistant referee system in the Premier League says it could take “six or seven years” to get used to the system.

VAR was introduced in the English top flight at the start of the season.

And Neil Swarbrick said it has taken years for rugby and cricket to be “in a comfortable place” with similar technology.

“I’m sure it will be the same with football,” he said.

Addressing complaints about the use of the system so far this season in a BBC Radio 5 Live phone-in, the 53-year-old said he “sympathises” with fans who suggest they cannot always celebrate a goal like they used to as they have to await VAR confirmation that the effort will stand.

However he said showing decisions on big screens has made the system transparent and that the intention is to keep interruptions to the game to a minimum.

“Intervention wise we’ve had 20 Premier League games so far this season and we’ve had five reviews, all of which are factual,” he said.

“In the men’s World Cup in 2018 they had one review every 3.2 games in the Women’s World Cup they had one every 1.9 games so there was quite a lot of interference there. We feel we’re in quite a decent place.

“We’ve had two weeks of the season and obviously it’s going to be the talking point because it’s just come in.”

Swarbrick said there could be “changes as we go forward” with a system that had only previously been used domestically in some FA Cup and Carabao Cup matches.

Match of the Day: Handball rule is ridiculous – Danny Murphy

Swarbrick also responded to questions about changes to the handball rule.

The rule, which came into effect on 1 June, states a goal must be disallowed if a player, intentionally or not, handles the ball in the build up. Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus’ injury time goal against Tottenham on Saturday was ruled out by VAR for that reason.

Defending the rule, Swarbrick said: “We’ve got to follow the laws of the game which are set by the International Football Association Board.

“We went to all 20 Premier League clubs from mid-July, just before the start of the season and went through the amendments in the laws of the game, we specifically talked about handball.”

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