VAR delays ruining ‘the spirit of the game’, says Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo after draw with Leicester


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Nuno Espirito Santo insists he is a fan of VAR, but claims the lengthy delays it caused in the Premier League this weekend ruined ‘the spirit of the game’.

The Video Assistant Referee system was used in the English top flight for the first time during the opening weekend, and there has already been plenty of controversy – including in Wolves’ 0-0 draw with Leicester City.

Nuno Espirito Santo wants officials to have better communication with players and fans during VAR checks

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Nuno Espirito Santo wants officials to have better communication with players and fans during VAR checks

Espirito Santo’s side were denied a 1-0 victory over the Foxes, who benefited from Leander Dendoncker’s second-half goal being ruled out as replays showed the ball hitting team-mate Willy Boly’s raised arm before he smashed the ball in.

You’d forgive the Wolves boss for being angry following the game, and the Portuguese did admit that six months ago his side would likely have come away with three points.

However, he believes VAR is a good thing – his only gripe is the current confusion that reigns within the stadium when VAR checks are made.

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And he also believes officials should have better communication with the players and supporters to ensure the ‘spirit of the game’ is not spoiled.

Speaking to talkSPORT’s Geoff Peters following the match, Espirito Santo said: “I didn’t see the images yet, but I’m concerned about the tempo.

“I’m concerned about the two minutes we celebrate, then we wait and then the Leicester fans celebrate a non-goal – this is not the spirit of the game.

“I must see the images. I trust VAR but I think it’s good for the referees to have dialogue, to explain what they saw and judge for the people and for the players who are involved to understand.

Currently, a big screen message is the only indication fans and players have that a VAR check is being made – many argue more should be communicated to prevent the current confusion

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Currently, a big screen message is the only indication fans and players have that a VAR check is being made – many argue more should be communicated to prevent the current confusion

Wolves’ goal celebrations were in vain as their goal was chalked off

Getty Images – Getty

Wolves’ goal celebrations were in vain as their goal was chalked off

“With their mix of feelings, under stress and competition to settle down and play again – it’s an issue and it’s going to be an issue until everything is clear.

“Is it a handball? Six months ago that was a goal. These are the questions everybody is going to have, it’s causing discussions and we’re talking it now. We didn’t speak about this before.”

The Premier League have confirmed around 70 incidents were checked during the first ten matches of the 2019/20 campaign – with it also playing a particularly significant role in Manchester City’s 5-0 victory over West Ham.

Man City also had goal ruled out by VAR in their victory over West Ham

There were seven checks in total in City’s massive win, which led to two overturned decisions – Gabriel Jesus having goal ruled out for offside and Sergio Aguero re-taking a penalty that was saved for encroachment, with the Argentine then scoring his second attempt.

Espirito Santo added: “I’m interested in the game. I want my team to compete and I want everything to be fair. When we draw, lose or win, no issue.

“This is what the Premier League is all about and I’m so proud of being here, but a product like the Premier League should never lose the spirit of the game that we have.

“Do I like VAR? Of course, everybody wants things to be fair, but we are concerned about it’s impact in the game.”


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Chris Wright

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