Webb: Henry handball was catalyst for VAR

Thierry Henry’s infamous handball in 2009, which effectively cost Ireland a place at the 2010 World Cup, caused outrage in this country, but also sparked a sense of injustice in one important Englishman, who is now a pioneer of video technology in the United States.

Webb: Henry handball was catalyst for VAR

Howard Webb, one of the world’s top referees, was at home in Sheffield watching the game, but knew instantly a miscarriage of justice had taken place and that was enough for him to be convinced that refs needed the help of technology. Now, he is in the US, where he will be responsible for implementing the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology in Major League Soccer from August.

He says it was watching that Ireland-France game in Paris that was the catalyst for a change in his own mind.

“My views changed in 2009 when I was watching France v Ireland, when Henry handled the ball and crossed for William Gallas to score. It was the crucial moment in the game and ultimately knocked Ireland out.”

Webb moved to the US in March to begin training video assistants, qualified referees who will sit in the stands to advise the man in the middle.

“VAR will only be used to review four things: Goals, penalties, red cards and cases of mistaken identity. Our trials have shown it will only affect decisions in one game in three, and will add no more than a minute to any game. And the most important thing is that the referee will still have the final say.”

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