Explained: Was Rashford’s goal against Liverpool regular and why VAR will change again?

Quite surprisingly, Manchester United won the derby with Liverpool. The “Red Devils” had started the season with two shameful losses – to Brighton and Brentford, but returned to the game with a resounding 2:1 over the big opponent at “Old Trafford”.

The winning goal for the hosts was the work of Marcus Rashford, who once again punished the Merseysiders. The goal was controversial, and according to many it should not have been counted because of the ambush of the English attacker.

However, replays showed that Anthony Martial flicked his pass to Rashford at the last possible moment and the United striker was in line with Joe Gomez before “pulling” him and sending the ball into Alisson’s near corner.

Some viewers have questioned why there is only one line when reviewing the VAR situation, and not two, as there usually are. Because here we are talking about the so-called permissible error.

What is the margin of error and since when does it apply?

The foul was introduced in the Premier League from the start of last season. With it, if there is contact between the two lines – the one that marks the position of the last defender and that of the attacker, in the freeze frame, then an ambush is not played. It is accepted that as soon as the two lines touch, the difference in positions between the two players is negligibly small. If the two lines do not touch, then we can already talk about an ambush position.

This was exactly the case with Marcus Rashford against Liverpool, which is why we only saw one general line of attack. That’s why United’s goal was counted, which subsequently turned into a derby defeat.

Interestingly, United have also suffered from this rule, even twice.

The first was in April against Norwich.

The second – at the start of the new campaign, in the 1:2 loss against Brighton.

From next year, a new change is expected in the Premier League, which will begin to work already this season in the Champions League and at the upcoming World Cup at the end of the year.

In July, FIFA introduced a new semi-automatic system that will now handle ambushes. The system was tested at the Club World Cup and the Arab Emirates Cup in 2021, and in addition to the 2022 World Cup, it will work from this season in the Champions League.

The technology also worked in the European Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt.

How does the technology work?

The technology uses 12 cameras that are placed on the roof of the stadium. Their aim is to track every movement of the ball and a total of 29 points of contact on the footballers (points with which a goal can be scored).

The cameras record at a much higher rate than regular ones, which are limited to 50 frames per second. In addition, the balls for the World Cup in Qatar will be equipped with additional sensors that will better report the moment of contact with the ball. The data from the ball will be sent 500 times per second in order to determine as accurately as possible the moment of the serve, if there is a ricochet or not, etc.

That being the case, why is the technology called semi-automatic and not fully automatic?

The explanation is simple – because the human element will not be removed entirely. VAR will still do some work and not everything will be solved by technology. Judges will continue to sit in the dark room, but they will simply have a control function and simply review whether the technology is working correctly.

It would only take a few seconds, and with the introduction of technology, the constant drawing of lines and calculating whether someone’s toe or the edge of the shirt is not in ambush will disappear.

After the decision of the technology is confirmed by the VAR judges, a 3D model will be prepared, which the televisions will present to the viewers with the exact moment of the ambush. The situation will also be shown on the huge screens in the stadiums.


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