Since the season 2017/18 Video Assistant Referees, short VAR, in the Bundesliga in use. In a DW interview, the DFB officials Lutz-Michael Fröhlich and Jochen Drees talk about the problems with video evidence.

The criticism of the work of the video assistants continues. In the first round of the Bundesliga hardly a matchday passed without discussions. Still the VAR encounters rejection. What explanation do you have for this?

Lutz Michael Fröhlich: Some fans might have the expectation, with the introduction of the VAR we would get the absolutely just football without discussion. But it will never happen. The goal was to reduce the number of blundering decisions and increase fairness. We made good progress along the way. Even if not everything is perfect yet.

When will this control system be finally accepted by means of television pictures?

 DFB Lutz Michael Froehlich (picture-alliance / SvenSimon / F.Hoermann)
Referee Lutz Michael Fröhlich

Lutz Michael Fröhlich: Internationally, there is no such massive criticism as in Germany. For example, in Spain and the Netherlands, the positive aspects are much more prevalent in the public debate, although in the stadiums there are only pictures of eight cameras available. We have 21 cameras per game in use.

Many critics point out that it is not transparent what is happening there. At the World Cup in Russia, the controversial scenes were shown in the stadium. Why not in the Bundesliga?

Jochen Drees: At the World Cup, there were new stadiums with state-of-the-art technology. With us you can not show these pictures everywhere. But we do not want to show the pictures in one stadium and not in the other. I can not say when there will be unity. We also aim to ensure that, in the future, the referee can explain his decision to the spectators in the stadium via his headset, as in American football.      

Another point of contention is that in one game the VAR intervenes, not in the other. Why are these differences?

Jochen Drees: You can not compare situations of different games. There are two reasons for the VAR to intervene: in blatant wrong decisions and when the referee in the field has not perceived something, because he was blinded by the view of the situation. For example, if a referee in the stadium scores a foul for non-punishment, he will not be able to intervene, even if he himself might have decided on a penalty. It is different in the grossly wrong rating of a scene, for example, if a clear hand play in the area is overlooked. Then the VAR must intervene and alert the colleague to his mistake. He should then look at the scene on the monitor itself. Because the concrete decision is always the referee in the stadium ..  

How does this agreement work?

Germany Football Bundesliga - Hamburger SV.  FC Schalke 04 (picture-alliance / CITYPRESS 24)
Jochen Drees (2nd from right) during his active time

Jochen Drees: On the one hand, the referee has the opportunity to signal to the VAR that he was unable to perceive a scene exactly. On the other hand, we train our VARs to accurately assess before an intervention whether the referee had a clear view of the situation. We want to keep the number of interventions as low as possible. There were examples in the first round where intervention by the VAR was not required. 

How do you want to get that under control?

Jochen Drees: This is only possible through constant evaluation and training. After each match day we discuss with the deployed VAR what was good and what could be improved. Not only the referees are graded. There is also an evaluation system for the VAR.

The evaluation of hand games also repeatedly provokes criticism. Intention or not is the question then.

Lutz Michael Fröhlich: So far, we have come a long way towards uniform design so far. This has found approval in the clubs of the Bundesliga It is true that in an unnatural hand position is a rule violation. So when the arm is splayed away from the body. However, we also have understanding for the discussions. Internationally, it must finally be clearly defined what a punishable hand game is. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is required. 

Lutz Michael Fröhlich (61) was a referee for 14 years in the Bundesliga. He also led numerous national and European cup games. Today is the head of the elite referee in the DFB

Dr. Jochen Drees (48) was until 2017 referee in the Bundesliga. Since October 2018 he is project manager for the video referees.   

The interview was conducted by Herbert Schalling.  

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