Football

Southgate: Consult VAR only if foul is clear and obvious

England manager Southgate not convinced of system ahead of its use in Russia

England manager Gareth Southgate questioned the use of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system after it denied his side a sixth successive clean sheet and a notable victory over Italy yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The World Cup-bound hosts looked comfortable against the four-time world champions after Jamie Vardy's 26th-minute goal had brought a sizeable Wembley crowd to life.

But instead of the post-match talk being about England's encouraging build-up to Russia, it turned to the VAR after substitute Federico Chiesa was deemed to have been fouled in the area by debutant James Tarkowski of Burnley in the 85th minute.

There was a lengthy delay before German referee Deniz Aytekin was told to award the penalty, which Lorenzo Insigne converted to earn World Cup absentees Italy a 1-1 draw.

The VAR will be used at the World Cup Finals for the first time later this year and Southgate is clearly yet to be convinced, even if he chose his words carefully.

"I'm glad it's not the World Cup just yet," Southgate said.

"The ruling is 'clear and obvious' and it's not. It's one you can debate all day. It looks like James Tarkowski stands on him, but it's during the running process and he's going down anyway.

"The referee had a good view. I don't think with incidents like that VAR will clear things up."

Yet Southgate admits technology appears to be here to stay - even if he thinks the referee's decision should be final.

"I prefer that the referee's decision is final, that's my start point," he said.

"If we go with technology then VAR is the right thing to do, but it must be clear and obvious - otherwise it's just opinion again - and there must be a better way of communicating with the fans. There's a clearer communication with those in the stadium in other sports."

Tarkowski, for whom the incident tarnished an otherwise steady debut, said it was never a penalty, while former England captain Alan Shearer said VAR was in danger of causing chaos.

"If you ignore the 'clear and obvious' guidance then you potentially have to review every decision and the game will descend into chaos," Shearer said on Twitter.

Southgate will select his provisional squad of 33 on May 14 before two more friendlies against Nigeria and Costa Rica.

After draws against Germany and Brazil, victory over Holland and yesterday's assured display against Italy, he has every reason to be optimistic about his side's prospects in Russia.

COMPETITIVE

He said: "In terms of the last four games, we have played four of the biggest football countries in the world and we have been competitive in every game and our patterns of play have become clearer to everybody.

"What's really pleased me is the guys are solving problems on the pitch themselves. That's a real plus. From the midfield onwards, I thought we were a massive threat tonight, far more than in recent games."

Meanwhile, Italy interim coach Luigi di Biagio was proud of his charges.

He said: "They can improve and do well, whether it's with me or not, I'm not concerned about that.

"What's more important is how we grow. People say we should start rebuilding by defending well but, if we don't go out to play, we don't grow.

"This is a starting point. It's a pity we're not scoring many goals after building so much in the last two matches but, if we keep building, the goals will come." - AFP, REUTERS

Football