Undoubtedly, the most controversial moment to come out of Tottenham’s 2-1 defeat at the King Power Stadium on Saturday was the decision by VAR to rule out Serge Aurier’s second-half goal, as Son Heung-min was adjudged to have been offside by the barest of margins.
The Spurs forward seemed level with the defender to the naked eye but the system ruled that Son’s shoulder was 1.6cm ahead of Jonny Evans’ knee.
The decision has received a lot of criticism over the last couple of days with former Liverpool defender John Barnes suggesting that the offside law should be changed to refer only to the position of the attacker’s feet given how closely they are being scrutinised by VAR (beIN SPORTS).
Meanwhile Daily Mail’s Chief Football Writer, Rob Draper has suggested that VAR must include a margin of error as the technology that’s being used cannot accurately call offsides as close as Son’s on Saturday.
However, former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has dismissed all the criticisms of the decision and insisted that we need to get used to marginal offside calls being given with the advent of VAR.
In his column for the Daily Mail, Clattenburg wrote: “If VAR tells us Son Heung-min was 1.6cm offside, then he is offside. We need to accept that if the camera shows a player to be offside, no matter how small the margin, then the decision will be given.
“Do we then start not allowing goals which are just 1.6cm over the line? No. This is one aspect of VAR we have to stop complaining about. Son was offside seconds before Serge Aurier scored what would have been Spurs’ second goal at Leicester, and the correct decision was reached.
“I have seen the argument that, in such tight situations, the on-field decision should be respected, like umpire’s call in cricket. But this is forgetting the fact that assistant referees have been told to keep their flag down and allow attacking phases to play out — so we do not know if Son would have been flagged offside or not without this instruction.”
“As for the suggestion that the VAR system is not 100 per cent accurate because of the frame rate, we have to accept that this is the best technology available right now and respect what it shows — even if that is 1.6cm offside.”
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Clattenburg conveniently ignores the main problem with scrutinising offside calls this closely – the frame rate of the technology being used means that it is impossible to accurately judge close offside calls beyond a point.
Just because this is the best technology available right now doesn’t mean that we have to continue using it every single time knowing that it is inaccurate for close calls. The obvious thing to do here would be including a margin for error while making these calls.
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