Arsene Wenger believes offside calls will be decided by technology as early as next year as he claims the process must be made quicker.
Technology has already taking a prominent role in refereeing decisions in football with VAR and goal-line technology in effect across the game globally.
But the formal Arsenal manager claims it is taking too long for offside decisions to be made by VAR.
Wenger, who is in charge of global development at FIFA, believes it is time for football to take the next step forward and make offside calls ‘automated’ and ease the pressure on referees.
The Frenchman says VAR is too slow to make decisions and insists the process must be streamlined to make it more efficient in time for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
‘We must continue to progress in the speed of decision-making, particularly in terms of offside,’ he said, via Goal.
‘In 2022 at the World Cup, we’ll be much better able to make very quick offside decisions. And it will stop the game less because that is what the VAR can be faulted with. There is a real emotional lift, but after that you have to know if you want fair decisions or not.
‘There is a good chance that the offside will be automated at the 2022 World Cup. I am bound to secrecy, but this will be the next of the big developments in refereeing.’
Wenger’s comments come after France won the Nations League final 2-1 against Spain, with the decisive goal coming in controversial fashion.
Paris Saint-Germain star forward Kylian Mbappe slotted the ball home after clearly being in an offside position.
Footage of the incident showed that Mbappe was standing behind Spain’s last man when the ball was played.
However, the match officials – which included Premier League referee Anthony Taylor – felt that Spain defender Eric Garcia had deliberately touched the ball. Therefore, they treated everything after that moment as a new phase of play.
As it stands, the rules currently state that ‘a player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball, including deliberate handball, is not considered to have gained an advantage’.
Following the game, Man of the Match and Spain midfielder Sergio Busquets was furious, claiming the decision ‘didn’t make sense’.
‘The referee told us that Eric Garcia wanted to play the ball and that kills the offside… But he wanted to play the ball because the ball would have reached Mbappe who was offside! It doesn’t make sense,’ he said.
While Garcia added: ‘Mbappe is offside. The referee tells me that I tried to play the ball. What should I do? Step aside and let him run? Apparently that’s the rule.’
VAR has also faced criticism since its implementation in the Premier League but Wenger defended the technology, insisting, although it is not perfect, it has had a positive impact on the game and cut down the mount of refereeing errors in big clashes.
‘I think it’s positive in that if it was announced tomorrow, people would be against it. We realised in the decisive matches that the VAR was able to prevent bad decisions from being made,’ he said.
‘But there are things that still need to be perfected. VAR is a new process. The level of the VAR people may not be at the level of the referees. But it will come in a few years.
‘There is an issue because it requires a lot of people and it is still expensive. VAR is a useful aid and it must remain to make more fair decisions. Before, there were 93 per cent fair decisions and today it is 97%. So that’s hundreds of decisions over an entire championship. It is important.’