Cricket chief offers to help after VAR farce during Tottenham FA Cup win

tom collomosse
Ear we go: Referee Paul Tierney listens to the VAR during Wednesday's Cup clash at Wembley: Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Cricket chiefs have offered to discuss the use of video technology with their football counterparts following Wednesday's chaos with the VAR system at Wembley.

The farcical scenes during the FA Cup tie between Tottenham and Rochdale cast doubt over the viability of VAR, with Spurs defender Danny Rose labelling it “nonsense” and manager Mauricio Pochettino questioning whether it would be ready for use in the Premier League next season.

Dave Richardson, the chief executive of the International Cricket Council, is well-placed to assess the progress of video technology in sport, with the Decision Review System having been first used in Test matches 10 years ago.

Even though there are still moments of controversy now — notably during last year’s Ashes series in Australia — international players and coaches are far happier with DRS now than they were then.

Richardson believes it is crucial that supporters inside the ground know what is happening when technology is deployed. At last summer’s Champions Trophy in England and Wales, fans could see relevant replays of the incident in question and — in most cases — hear the discussion between the TV umpire and the on-field officials.

At Wembley, neither fans nor players knew which incidents referee Paul Tierney and video assistant referee Graham Scott were discussing, or how they reached their decisions.

Richardson told Standard Sport: “Initally, all supporters saw on the big screen was ‘Decision Pending’; everyone was in the dark.

“That is a lesson we learned, that you need to keep fans informed. They have to be able to see replays and, where possible, hear what the match officials are saying.

A decision is reviewed during the first half (Getty Images)

“We have implemented that at ICC global tournaments and we recommend that is used wherever possible in series between countries.

“We have not spoken to anyone in football about it. We do meet with our counterparts at FIFA and it has not been discussed yet but if they ever wanted to discuss it, we would be more than happy to do so.

“It takes time and it takes a degree of trial and error. Do not be too impatient with the technology because it will only improve: it won’t get worse. I would not say whether it should be used or not in football, as it is their baby.

“When we introduced it in international cricket, I’d say 55 per cent of those involved in cricket were in favour, and 45 per cent were sceptical.

“It took about five years to get that balance to 85 per cent/15 per cent, and I’d say it was higher now.”

Premier League chairman are to decide in April whether to bring VAR into their competition from next season.

It is already in place in Italy’s Serie A, while Germany’s Bundesliga plans to extend its use in 2018-19. Ligue 1, the top-flight competition in France, announced in December that it also intends to roll out VAR next term.

Richardson believes that one of the greatest challenges is testing the technology in a high-profile environment. For a long time, India — world cricket’s most powerful nation — would not accept DRS in their matches.

There were also early teething problems, particularly a series between West Indies and England in the Caribbean in 2009, when DRS was pilloried. Football is experiencing similar problems — which is a concern with the World Cup, where VAR will be deployed, barely three months away.

Richardson added: “You have to go through a period of trialling and it can be quite painful and laborious. There is no silver bullet. The biggest problem we had was persuading the players to trust the accuracy of the technology.

“Then there was the question of how to trial the technology. We had to test it in match situations where the host broadcaster had the equipment to allow us to do so, meaning we were going through our trial phase at the top level of cricket – the international game.”