I think we’re all in agreement by now that in it’s current form, VAR is killing the game of football that we all love.
Another Premier League weekend has come to an end and all the talk is about decisions made by VAR across several different games.
Monday’s fixtures were ultimately decided by VAR, as a penalty was awarded thanks to VAR to help Fulham take three points away to Leicester in a 2-1 win. Later that night VAR ruled out a late Ollie Watkins equaliser for a minimal offside call but failed to miss a blatant foul that led to the offside in the first place, as West Ham held on to beat Aston Villa 2-1.
While Fulham fans will be delighted with VAR’s implementation, Villa will have gone home absolutely fuming.
Sky Sports had a compelling argument post-game between co-hosts Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher about what the issues currently are.
Watching the games in recent months, it’s clear that the issues are coming from the video referees rather than the actual technology.
Offside is offside, however minimal it is. As Neville says, it will always be a matter of an inch. When those decisions used to be called incorrectly by linesmen fans and coaches would be up in arms about how officials need help.
The offside rule at the moment is a nonsense. That is because the handball rule is a farce.
Since the handball rule was adapted in the summer and it became accepted to include part of the arm it has made offside even more difficult to accept.
What makes it even harder to understand is when the officials miss something in the build-up so blatantly and then just pretend they haven’t seen it.
As can be seen above, Watkins is only offside because his arm is in an offside position. His arm is only in an offside position because Angelo Ogbonna is fouling him, but according to a statement from PGMOL that wasn’t a ‘clear and obvious error’ and therefore a penalty wasn’t awarded.
It’s incidents like that, that VAR was brought in for to begin with, to see things missed by the on-field officials that needed to be picked up on retrospectively.
Go back and watch Scotland’s penalty shootout win over Serbia to see how the game is dying. After making the save that sees his nation make it into an international tournament for the first time this century, goalkeeper David Marshall doesn’t celebrate. He instead asks the referee if the VAR check is complete before celebrating.
Moments are being ruined, the raw emotion of the game is being taken out of it. As if it wasn’t hard enough without fans in the stadium currently, everything being double checked for any minute issues has just thrown a blanket over anything good happening.
The rules need to be clearer and there need to be a proper review of how the system is used. Right now, referees are being barked at through an earpiece to make a decision they potentially don’t agree with.
They need to be braver in sticking with their initial decision if they believe it’s the right one, otherwise there is no point having a referee on the field whatsoever.
The game is dying a slow and painful death right now. Fans are falling out of love with the sport and players are falling out of love with it too.