What are the changes to Premier League VAR for the 2021-22 season?

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The Premier League has announced a series of changes to their application of VAR for the 2021-22 season.

VAR’s performance during the European Championship, where it was generally a smoother and more efficient process, has inspired the Premier League to take action and try to improve their own use of the technology.

But what exactly can we expect?

Thicker offside lines

One of the biggest problems with VAR last season was offside. There were a number of boundary decisions where the slightest margin labeled a player offside, leading to many complaints from players and fans alike.

Inspired by the Eredivisie, the Premier League will “thicken” the lines used to separate the defender and the attacking player, meaning the player will only be marked offside if there is “daylight” between the line connecting the defender follows and the attacker.

Its application should ensure that armpits and toes offside, where players were flagged off for the tightest margins, should be drastically reduced. But until we see it in action, it remains unclear how well it will actually work, how thick the lines will be, and how much advantage the attacker will gain.

The handball rule

Handballs are the other controversy that has permeated consciousness since the introduction of the VAR.

The rule has been amended and revised amid a series of ridiculous handball decisions in which players who didn’t even look in the right direction were penalized for the ball hitting their arm.

We are finally going back to healthy posture, indicating that arms in an unnatural position are punished, but no longer referencing a specific body shape or posture.

As a result, other handball situations should be removed.

The new technical guideline states: “A player is considered to have unnaturally enlarged his body when the position of his hand/arm is not due to, or justified by, the player’s body movement for that particular situation.

“By keeping the hand/arm in such a position, the player runs the risk of his hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalized.”

Armpit offside

But we’re still dealing with the dreaded armpit offside, which distinguishes which body part a player can play onside.

In the application, arms are not taken into account when designating offside and so the body has to start somewhere to decide where a player stands in relation to the defender or attacker.

And so it has been confirmed that ‘the bottom of the armpit’ will be the position from which the lines are drawn to ultimately decide whether a player is on or offside.

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