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

Inspired by the performance at the Euros, the Premier League have announced sweeping changes to their application of the system

12:36pm on Tuesday 27th July 2021
Paul Macdonald

The Premier League has announced that it will make a series of amendments to their application of VAR for the 2021-22 season.

The performance of VAR during the Euros, where it was generally a smoother and more efficient process, has inspired the Premier League to act and attempt to improve their own utilisation of the technology.

But what we exactly can we expect?

Thicker Offside Lines

One of the biggest issues last season with VAR was offside. There were a number of borderline decisions where the slightest margin was marking a player as offside, leading to much complaints from players and fans alike.

Inspired by the Eredivisie, the Premier League will 'thicken' the lines used to separate the defender and attacking player, meaning the player is only flagged as offside if there is 'daylight' between the line tracking the defender and tracking the forward.

Its application should ensure that armpit and toe offsides, where players were flagged for the tiniest 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 of a benefit will be returned to the attacker.

The handball rule

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

The rule has been tweaked and tweaked again, amidst a run of ludicrous handball decisions where players not even facing in the correct direction were penalised for the ball brushing their arm.

We are finally moving back to a position of sanity, designating that arms in an unnatural position will be punished, but no longer refers to a specific body shape or stance.

As a result other handball situations should be removed.

The new technical guidance states: "A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player's body movement for that specific situation.

"By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised."

Armpit offsides

But we are still having to deal with the dreaded armpit offside, which distinguishes which part of the body can play a player onside.

In application arms are not considered in terms of designating offside and so the body must begin somewhere to decide where a player is standing in relation to the defender or forward.

And so it's been confirmed that 'the bottom of the armpit' will be the position from where lines will be drawn to ultimately decide whether a player is on or offside.

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