West Ham and England midfielder Declan Rice says that Premier League footballers no longer want VAR is the English top division following a string of controversial decisions from the Video Assistant Referee this season.
Rice and West Ham were denied a late equalizer in Friday’s fixture with Sheffield United when Robert Snodgrass’s goal was disallowed because the ball was adjudged to have touched Rice’s arm in the build-up, costing new boss David Moyes a precious point in his side’s relegation battle.
And, with the stakes as high as they are, Rice said afterwards that video technology has become a hindrance to the game rather than an improvement.
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“We are fuming. All the lads are livid,” Rice said to the media after the final whistle.
“I’ve just watched it back. He has knocked the ball into my hand. If you are running with your arms like that with the rules as they are now it is handball, but it is not intentional. It is a kick in the teeth.
“I think they are the thoughts of every Premier League player, not just me – pretty much everyone doesn’t want VAR in the game.
“There have been so many decisions this season that have been absolutely crazy. They were celebrating VAR like it was a goal and football should not be like that.”
Rules dictate that any handball, no matter if it was deliberate or not, in the lead-up to a goal will lead to it being ruled out but new West Ham boss Moyes said that “people who watch football” will know that Snodgrass’s strike was a legitimate one.
Declan Rice 👏 Saying how the rest of us feel. pic.twitter.com/mI2a86KoHu
— joey 🅙 (@fatalmango) January 10, 2020
Palace fans know the script. pic.twitter.com/j1iIrkZlvx
— Piebury Corner (@PieburyCorner) January 11, 2020
“Anybody who has played football or been around the game knows it was a good goal,” he said to BBC Sport.
“From my point of view, and the people who watch football, the decision is not right. I wouldn’t say I’m a great fan [of VAR] but we having to come to terms with it. People who have played football know when it’s not right and tonight is one of those situations.
“Whoever checked it I think got it wrong because it was a really good bit of play by Declan Rice – where would you put your hands, tie them behind your back?”
VAR was first tested on the world stage at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and adopted to the English Premier League soon after. However, a series of closely contested offside decisions, as well as a spate of disallowed goals, has led to suggestions that the game has become overly-officious as a result.
One solution proposed by some football fans is to not change VAR but to adapt the rules which govern both handballs and offsides to allow for rule implementation more in line with the spirt of the game.
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Despite the decision helping his team, Sheffield United’s coach Chris Wilder couldn’t help but offering his commiserations to the opposition.
“I feel for David [Moyes] and the players,” he said. “The same thing has happened to us a few times.
“Soon as they scored, no-one was looking at it but I felt for the opposition – it’s the same moans and groans as we’ve had in the past.“