I've never been a fan of VAR.
For one, it doesn't remove subjectivity – far from only being used to interfere with refereeing decisions where the VAR outcome is clearcut, it is often being employed on issues where the end result is simply replacing the ref's opinion with that of someone else who seemingly bears no accountability.
For two, it takes the emotional spontaneity out the game. Is anybody looking forward to next season having to put your emotions on hold after an Everton goal is scored while you check the scoreboard for a number of seconds to see whether the goal is to be reviewed?
VAR is here to stay, unfortunately, but, in the meanwhile, I'd love to understand certain aspects of it. In particular, I don't think I have ever heard an explanation of how far back in the game a VAR can go in considering whether to cancel out a goal.
Take tonight's Man City - Spurs game: what if Aguero, instead of knocking the cross in straight-away for Sterling to score, had instead juggled the ball on his head, knocked it on to his thigh, did some keepy-uppy, and then crossed. Would it still have been disallowed? What, more realistically, if there had followed a 4- or 5-pass sequence before the ball was set up for Sterling?
To remove the inevitable inconsistency in referrals on the particular issue of offside goals, is there a case then for only deploying VAR to judge only the final pass? After all, refs make incorrect decisions all over the pitch and VAR is not used to get them corrected. Nor is VAR used to halt a game whenever the ref misses an offside.
The history of football has always been one of contentious decisions, where incorrect decisions have determined outcomes. It's only a sport and we've all had to live with it. Obviously, VAR can lead to more correct decisions, but let's not kid ourselves... the real reason for its introduction has been the amount of business money now swilling around the sport. And it comes at a cost — to lovers of the game and the excitement and intense spontaneous emotions it generates.,
Reader Comments (13)
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1 Posted 19/04/2019 at 12:26:43
I understand all the points you are making but still think VAR should be used.
My reason is that no system will eliminate subjectivity and what really matters is that all concerned should be prepared to accept the decision made by the referee, whether he uses VAR or not.
Sadly, in football the acceptance of decisions made by the referee is virtually non-existent - whether it be by the players, management, supporters or press.
Contrast that with Rugby Union. VAR is accepted as working satisfactorily, not because it is more sophisticated than the football version, but because everyone has signed up to accepting the decision of the referee once he has seen the VAR replay. Disagreements still take place (who can be certain whether the ball has been grounded for a try when there might be 16 burly forwards lying on top of the ball ?) but the decision is accepted and isn't followed by a witch hunt against the VAR system.
VAR is a tool intended to help referees do their job (an extra pair or pairs of eyes if you like) but the ultimate decision is with the referee and if his authority is accepted (as it is in rugby but not in football) then the system is a positive contribution.
2 Posted 19/04/2019 at 15:03:02
On the Monday morning Dermot Gallagher on ref watch on SSN said the goal would not have been reviewed as VAR would not have gone back 3 or 4 stages. If a player receives a pass in an offside position, and it's not flagged, then it should be given as offside following a review, irrespective of how many passes follow.
So yet another dodgy decision that went in the RS's favour. They must be dreading VAR next season.
3 Posted 19/04/2019 at 15:36:25
VAR need not be a bad thing but in its current guise its a disaster waiting to happen. Despite that, Im sure well be very happy when we benefit from it.
The first question that needed to be asked about VAR is whether we need it at all. Do fans really want every decision to be 100% correct all the time or do we, on some level, enjoy the debate and discussion when a bad decision is made? Ive never heard the footballing authorities address this question.
VAR has three problems as I see it. The first is simple: it ruins the universality of football. Until the introduction of goal-line technology, the rules were the same regardless of whether you were playing in the Champions League or for a Sunday pub team. Its something of a shame that that is no longer true. [Update: After I originally posted this, some respondents commented that the laws of the game are not universal due to the way theyre differently interpreted across the league pyramid. The point remains, theyre all still playing from the same rule book.]
The second issue is one of subjectivity. Goal line technology works because its binary. The ball has either crossed the line or it hasnt. When you add technology which still leaves decisions open to debate, one wonders whether it is really necessary at all. Pundits and fans alike can watch endless replays and still disagree as to whether something is a foul or a good tackle. Or whether something is a deliberate or accidental handball. Contact alone doesnt equal a foul, and I believe the laws of the game are so badly written (or enforced) that VAR only adds a level of uncertainty, rather than removing one.
The third and final issue is one of the matchgoers experience. VAR replays are not shown within the stadium and fans are not always aware of what is happening. Indeed, in last weekends FA cup semi final, a VAR review was called for a possible red card decision yet fans didnt know which player, or even team, was under review. Why can replays not be shown within the stadium? To prevent crowd incitement? Why does rugby not have the same issue? Their video referee decisions are shown on the screens at the stadium. The answer, of course, is that the referees decision is ultimately subjective and were back to point number two.
An optimist would say that the introduction of VAR into the Premier League, and its use at 19 times per weekend should lead to its continuous tweaking and improvement. Perhaps the laws of the game will be made clearer to make decisions less subjective and perhaps, one day, replays will be shown on the big screens. At the very least, the screens should display graphics indicating what and who is under review. One can hope.
4 Posted 19/04/2019 at 15:56:46
5 Posted 19/04/2019 at 18:46:45
6 Posted 19/04/2019 at 19:04:35
Aside from not removing the subjectivity of many decisions I have dark suspicions that VAR could be used in the service of its masters. Man City and its fans are not popular at UEFA; apparently the referee was NOT shown the camera angle that proved that Llorentes arm had propelled the ball onto his hip. I wonder why?
Similarly UEFA did not at all like the idea of 5 English teams qualifying for the Champions League after Istanbul. Collina was duly called out of “retirement” to make sure Everton did not progress out of the qualifiers. If VAR had been operational he would still have seen something to disallow Fergusons perfectly valid goal.
7 Posted 19/04/2019 at 19:13:52
This however will only happen as long as it is "blind" to prestige reputations etc and it brings fair play and irradicates the game of blatant cheating bastards who have no concept of "sport" are a disgrace to themselves, the sporting world and indeed their own families I would suggest (yeah I mean you Mr Time personality of the year!!)how do you explain that shit to your kids ???
At least Lance Armstrong hit behind the fckin truck while he banged up these scum do it in full view of a nation and get clean away with it. Penalties should only be awarded when a DELIBERATE foul is commited, Enough of some bias pundit desperately trying to find excuses for this cancer on the sport
I do suspect if anything it will work the other way and the game will become and endless video replay and footballers little more than ballet dancers,
I thoroughly enjoyed the other nites game as a neutral but did not feel the same appreciation of VARs decision as I did for the goal however it was in the end the right decision
I cant think of a better way to clean the game up and level the playing field than VAR as long as its not corrupted like most things in the game
I live in hope
8 Posted 23/04/2019 at 18:35:24
I think the bigger clubs will suffer most with it as refs can melt at the likes of Man U. I am hoping it is predominately used for offside decisions. With grey area argiebargies, tackles, shirt pulling etc it needs to be clear cut to make a VAR decision.
I think a PL database of 'correct' adjudications needs to be constructed to act as a precedence for decisions. Refs and VAR officials will need to study it and pass a test thereon to adjudicate.
9 Posted 23/04/2019 at 18:58:30
Untraditional. Ruins the excitement. Takes away "talking points" and debates about calls. Overrules the refs. Too technical. Won't help. Too many long delays. It'll be a complete mess. And the fans just won't accept it.
But within a strikingly short time, video review has become fully accepted and integrated into the American sports experience. Baseball, the NFL, pro and college basketball, college football and hockey -- plus of course MLS -- have all been through their technical difficulties and growing pains with replay, but there is almost no one left here who wants to go back to the old days.
It's not perfect, and never will be. There are still times when it takes way too long, and there are still disputes, but there are even more times when the fans now wish there was a video review possible. The wrong team advanced to this year's Super Bowl because of an obvious bad call that, by rule, could not be reviewed at the time. That rule was promptly changed.
Even the less-than-perfect review systems are considered vast improvements on what we had before, and replay is being extended. More and more plays are now subject to review, and the overwhelming majority of sports fans here consider that a good thing.
I predict that in 5-10 years PL fans will wonder what all the controversy was about, if they remember it at all. VAR will be considered as natural as it is here.
10 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:15:49
And if footy's universality isn't ruined by the fact that my Sunday league allows open subs and plays on a 95-yard pitch, or because many school leagues use a two-man referee system, then it will certainly not be ruined by VAR.
11 Posted 23/04/2019 at 19:18:29
At the age of 80 I would welcome being around in 5-10 years, but I'm certain that if VAR is operating I won't be around Goodison Park.
12 Posted 28/04/2019 at 01:20:51
For me we have to do something to stop the blatant cheating, week after week.
Niasse must be baffled how he has served a ban for simulation, along with a West Ham player, yet no other Premier league player has since been punished.
If used right, var could benefit the majority of premiership teams that seem to get the shitty end of the stick.
I am all for var, it is something the game needs.
13 Posted 29/04/2019 at 19:15:36
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