The Football Talk | So Close, Yet So VAR

We’re football fans. We’re open to the entire world of football and we want to cover as much of it as we can so each week, we’ll be tackling an issue from the world of football. Each Thursday one of our writers (or a guest writer, GET IN TOUCH!) will take on this responsibility in what we’re calling The Football Talk.

In the first instalment of The Football Talk, Anthony (@anthonymarkmcav) tackles the controversial topic of Video Assistant Refereeing and it’s proposed use in the Premier League.

There are so many pros and cons to the use of VAR in football. If executed correctly it could almost definitely revolutionise the footballing world but in it’s current state, with elongated breaks and lethargic decision making, it simply isn’t feasible.

There are so many sports that do this correctly. Rugby, hockey and even cricket get their respective VAR systems correct to the letter and it works wonders in each of them.

Olympic gold medallist, and avid Liverpool fan, Sam Quek put forward in interesting idea in a recent column in the Metro. She suggested a decision review system where each team would get a finite amount of reviews per game. Whereas I think this would be a good idea, I don’t think the FA would at all go for it.

Dive.

The way it works currently leaves fans in the stadium in the dark and has no coherent way of communicating with the fans as to what is actually going on. The FA have suggested screens be implemented in stadiums but they really aren’t an option in my opinion. Stick a screen in Anfield and watch it be torn down within the first twenty minutes of it’s first game.

Decisions also take way too long to be made. This was made clear in Liverpool’s game against West Brom in the FA Cup, with the referee going to the VAR on a multitude of occasions in the tie, with it completely destroying the flow of the game and the pace of the Liverpool side, which ultimately cost Liverpool the game.

However, just because it isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean that it should be abandoned. We’ve seen in Liverpool games, like the one against Spurs, which finished 2-2, that an extra official reviewing certain decisions could make all the difference in a game.

I’d suggest a mix of the hockey ideology that Sam Quek put forward and a more simple, rugby-esque way of seeing things.

I think that losing challenges based off wrong calls is fair and should be implemented but the communication between the referee and what is a TMO in rugby should be what the Premier League go for.

Dive.

First of all, remove the referee’s ability to go and watch the incident back, leave the decision making to the fifth official that is either in the VAR hub or in a room within the stadium with instant communication. No waiting for referees to come and watch twelve different replays of something just to make a decision that could still be wrong.

Have the VAR watching the game too, calling out the ref if something is drastically wrong. Instantaneous second opinion for big decisions like penalties and red cards, and give each team one challenge per game that is lost if they fail their challenge.

VAR WILL help football. Just not in the state it currently is. FIFA, the FA, and most other organisations want the flow of the game to remain and if they actually want that to happen with the execution of VAR, then it will certainly have to be amended to allow that to actually happen.

It will eradicate most refereeing mistakes, even though it hasn’t even been flawless in that regard, with Chelsea not given a penalty in their FA Cup match against Norwich, when Willian was clearly tripped in the box.

We’re definitely still in the feeling-out period for VAR, and eventually, it will become a refined and well oiled machine that helps to ensure fairness and equality on the football pitch, but I seriously think some change is needed. Also, it’ll cause diving to be binned off and I can’t wait to see Poch’s face when that happens.

The World Cup will be a massive test of how the system functions and it will probably be used in it’s current iteration, which will intrigue and probably annoy a lot of football fans during the tournament in the Summer. Let’s hope that it’s not all we’re talking about during the biggest footballing tournament in existence.

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