Ref admits officials KNOW they will change decision at VAR monitor

Champions League ref admits officials KNOW they will change decision when called to pitchside monitors as the pressures of VAR are revealed in UEFA Man in the Middle documentary… plus footage shows whistlers celebrating with beers after high-pressure games

  • UEFA are releasing a four-part series given unprecedented access to referees 
  • Man in the Middle follows the professional and private lives of 16 elite referees 
  • Champions League referees open up on the increasing pressures of VAR
  • Felix Zwayer admits refs know they will overturn a decision at the pitch-side TV

Referees know that they will be overturning their decision as soon as they are asked via radio to check the VAR pitchside monitor, a Champions League official has claimed.

This season the concept of the ref heading over to personally consult the monitor was finally introduced to English football, after being used on the continent and in the Champions League.

Throughout the season so far the monitors have courted controversy, with officials consistently changing their minds when called to the screen.

UEFA’s Man in the Middle series sees one ref admit how monitors signal a decision change

Felix Zwayer took charge of Atletico vs Juventus, and knew he would have to rule out an Alvaro Morata goal after his VAR team signaled him to the monitor, meaning they had ‘evidence’

Such regularities prompted pundit Jamie Carragher to identify this as a trend, and now an elite level referee has all but confirmed this thinking. 

Felix Zwayer, a top tier UEFA ref who regularly takes charge of Champions League showdowns, shed light on the subject when recounting his experience two seasons ago when taking charge of Atletico Madrid versus Juventus. 

Zwayer was the man with the whistle inside the Wanda Metropolitano, when a thumping Alvaro Morata header was brought under the spotlight by VAR, after a potential shove was seen in the area.

Zwayer looked at the monitor under huge pressure, before going on to overturn Morata’s goal

The documentary also shows the pressure Damir Skomina faced with Man United vs PSG

Speaking in the UEFA Documentary series ‘Man in the Middle,’ Zwayer recounted: ‘They called me for an on-screen review and at this moment I already knew I would have to cancel the goal because they have evidence. 

‘I am working with my VARs for a long time, they would only call me if they have evidence and I need to change a situation. 

‘So, It’s not about that they are taking a decision but I know that if I go if front of the monitor there will be something which will change my mind.’

In the documentary the pressures and high stakes of VAR decisions are shown clearly to the viewer, with previously unseen footage showing the events during Manchester United’s heroic victory against PSG in Paris, during the early stages of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign.

Some referees go to huge lengths with their preparation, including team tactics and set-ups

A late penalty was awarded to United, which referee Damir Skomina had to check on the pitchside monitor before confirming Marcus Rashford could indeed step up to take it. Rashford hammered the spot ick home, and United progressed against the odds as a result.

The clip shows Skomina surrounded at the monitor by players and coaches from both United and PSG, before trying to hastily wave them away. Clearly he can be seen gesturing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to remove his staff members, saying: ‘Coach, Coach! This is pressure.’

Outlining how refs feel in these situation another, Clement Turpin, told the documentary: ‘You have to been aware of the information received from the VAR and be focused on it. You have to be aware of your body language, at this moment all the people in the stadium and all the cameras are on you. 

Footage covers all the huge Champions League games from 2018-19, including the final

Officials celebrate with sponsor beers in the aftermath of huge Champions League nights

‘So, important to be focused on the communications but also to be aware of the message that you give in this moment. Calm, confident, in control.’

A total of 16 refs are involved in the documentary, which UEFA are releasing as a free-to-air four-part series giving unprecedented access to referees, releasing microphone recordings of their heated conversations with players in the biggest Champions League matches. 

Fans are offered a unique insight, with one segment even showing how relieved officials celebrate together in the changing room after high pressure European ties, clinking bottles of beer to celebrate a successful night’s work.


Cuneyt Cakır – Turkey

Willie Collum – Scotland

Carlos del Cerro Grande – Spain

Ovidiu Hategan – Romania

Bjorn Kuipers – Netherlands

Antonio Mateu Lahoz – Spain

Bobby Madden – Scotland

Danny Makkelie – Netherlands 

 Szymon Marciniak – Poland

Michael Oliver – England

Daniele Orsato – Italy

Gianluca Rocchi – Italy

Damir Skomina – Slovenia

Anthony Taylor – England

Clement Turpin – France

Felix Zwayer – Germany


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