VAR can be a change for the bet­ter

The Chronicle - - Safc - By STU­ART JAMIESON

RAFA Ben­itez is hope­ful VAR will ‘pro­tect the good play­ers’ ahead of its trial at St James’ Park for the first time this af­ter­noon.

VAR is set to be rolled out at five Pre­mier League games to­day, in­clud­ing New­cas­tle’s clash with Arse­nal.

How­ever, while of­fi­cials in the VAR hub will treat the match ‘as live’ they will have no in­flu­ence on the match ref­eree’s de­ci­sion.

The tech­nol­ogy may be brought into the Pre­mier League next sea­son if th­ese tri­als are suc­cess­ful and Ben­itez ad­mit­ted it will change the game mas­sively - but not nec­es­sar­ily neg­a­tively.

He said: “It can change but it is not cru­cial.

“The pos­i­tive thing it brings is that even with­out mak­ing a de­ci­sion you know they are watch­ing you.

“So bad tack­les, you know that they are watch­ing. If it pro­tects the good play­ers then I think it is pos­i­tive.”

VAR has al­ready been in­tro­duced for numer­ous com­pe­ti­tions, in­clud­ing Ligue 1, the Bun­desliga and FA Cup ties played at Pre­mier League grounds.

How­ever, the Pre­mier League voted against in­tro­duc­ing VAR for the 2018/19 cam­paign and in­stead waited to see how suc­cess­ful it was at the World Cup over the sum­mer.

Dur­ing the World Cup there were numer­ous de­ci­sions made with the help of VAR, caus­ing con­tro­versy and ten­sion among pun­dits and fans.

De­spite the split in re­ac­tion for a lot of de­ci­sions, how­ever, the tech­nol­ogy did have a pos­i­tive im­pact on many key events through­out the World Cup.

Ben­itez added: “You can see the stats and I have checked them for the World Cup and they were much bet­ter.

“The de­ci­sions were bet­ter and you have more penal­ties.

“There were 20 in the other World Cup and 29 in the last one, so that means nine more penal­ties be­cause you have more con­trol.”

Ben­itez at­tended a UEFA Elite Club Coaches’ Fo­rum meet­ing in Nyon last week and said there were dis­cus­sions about the in­tro­duc­tion of VAR, re­veal­ing he was in­vited to see how the tech­nol­ogy worked here in Eng­land.

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