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Legend Wenger jets into Belfast to make strong points on VAR

Patrick Nelson and Arsene Wenger
Patrick Nelson and Arsene Wenger

By Steven Beacom

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was involved in a heavy duty meeting with Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson in Belfast yesterday.

Before Northern Ireland fans get excited, replacing Michael O'Neill as international boss was not on the agenda.

Instead it was the thorny subject of VAR that topped the discussion list, with Wenger the big name at the annual International Football Association Board (IFAB) meeting.

IFAB determine the laws of the game. It is a body that is made up of members of the four home nations associations, with Nelson a representative of the IFA, and FIFA who represent its other football associations.

VAR has caused controversy around the globe and nowhere more so than in the English Premier League, and IFAB are keen to address the situation.

Wenger was invited to the Grand Central hotel in Belfast to give his thoughts.

The Arsenal legend, who is now FIFA's new chief of global football development, believes that referees in the Premier League should start to use pitchside VAR monitors when debatable incidents crop up.

At present, the advice from the referees' group Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) is that officials should use the monitors sparingly and instead rely on the guidance of the VAR.

Many current managers and players would agree with Wenger's stance.

Speaking after the IFAB meeting, Wenger said: "The referee needs a monitor to check if he was right or wrong. For me, that is the most important worry. The referees on the field are there because they have the experience and they are confident. You should give the referee the possibility to do it. Then after to explain the decision on the screen."

The ex-Gunners boss added: "At the moment you have two big clubs (Manchester United and Liverpool) with no screens. That is a problem that has to be resolved. I would like the decision to be explained on the screen."

A statement from the IFAB said members of its technical and football advisory panels were given a "detailed update" on VAR use worldwide and "the growing demand for more immediate information about the referee's final decisions after a VAR review".

The IFAB's AGM takes place on February 29, where any proposals can become laws of the game from June 1.

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