When it was announced that VAR would be tested in Cup matches this season – I was very pleased. A brand-new system, tested in real-life situations with the pressure of Premier-League sized crowds – it made, and still makes perfect sense.
However, after about 6 months – the very same fans crying out for technology to eradicate the mistakes that were costing their team points, has been thrown to the dogs, written off so to speak – by the fans that called for it.
I for one am still all for the system – much like with Cricket, Tennis or even Rugby Union – there were teething issues when making/testing the system, and of course opposition. But what fans have to realise is that without this testing in real life situations, it can’t be enhanced, fine-tuned and perfected.
The most recent game, involving Spurs and Rochdale was hammered on social media for the use of VAR – however the outcome of each consultation was accurate. There was a little commotion over Erik Lamela’s goal that was ruled out, and in reality it was harsh as both attacker and defender were tussling for the ball. The rest were right, no two ways about it!
Son was correctly booked for stopping during his run-up to the penalty that was awarded thanks to the system, with an original call of Free-Kick wrong. In all honesty, the referee and system were used a bit too much in this game, nearly every goal was checked – but as I’ve said, how can you fine-tune a system without making errors?
The Man Utd game was another matter – the system was not prepared properly pre-game which ended up confusing everyone, with the lines on a graphic used by BT Sport wonky – however explained afterwards. Apparently the system had not been calibrated properly…again teething issues.
Criticism from the fans is one thing, but the system has been torn apart by pundits – which I find pathetic. Having played the game, and been victim of many an unfair call – they should be encouraging it, not saying it should be binned. There are several issues – but all solvable.
- Lack of Trained Officials
Easy – the more it is used, the more experience these officials get. Trained behind the scenes as well, and by the time it is introduced, less mistakes. The more it is used – the better results and less conspicuous it will seem.
2. Time Taken to Make Decisions
Same as above – with more use, everyone will become more efficient in the use of the technology. Once the minor issues are ironed out, the time taken to make decisions comes down.
3. Comparison to other Sports
It’s hard to compare with Tennis, or Cricket. There are more natural breaks in both sports, as there is in Rugby as well. You get a set number of reviews, and the rules are often more clear cut and with more defined ways of coming to an official decision.
4. How to Utilise it?
There needs to be a set number of ways it can be used. At the moment some referee’s seem to be using it to re-refereee incidents. However, if they said it can be used to decide if there was: A handball, a foul in the box, a red card offence, an offside etc – to define a clear mistake. This way fans will know what to expect when it is used.
That last one is a big one. If the FA, and the makers of the system can come up with some ground rules so to speak, it can eradicate some issues. If a referee knows when and how to use it, it can only be a good thing. There’s a lot of confusion at the moment, and although I said you can’t compare to other sports, there are surely lessons to be learned from them.
If you gave the official a mic – so everyone knows whats going on, or at least people watching at home – it will become a process, not a ‘what the hell is going on’ – you will see and hear the logic behind decisions and how they are come to – like Rugby for example.
Personally I like this system and am glad iFab have ratified it for use. For those who have not seen – this has been widely successful in Italy and Germany where it has also been tested.
The final question I ask is this, to the ones who don’t want this VAR: Would you rather a few delays in games, and the right decisions come out, than have no delays and moan at the end of the season, or match – that a decision cost your side X points or Y positions/matches?
I’m pretty sure I know what the answer is.