The Woes Of VAR
"These people dey mess things up na!!”. The common rant which over ten people shouted at almost the same time. One man put his hands on his head as the frustration seemed to almost be driving him crazy. A goal had just been cancelled because of a very close offside line.
"VAR! NA WA O! “ Another person mouthed at the viewing center. The regular series of complaints about the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) immediately brought a question to mind. What is really the problem between the people and VAR? . I understood that different people from different places would have different opinions on the controVARsy. I started asking questions and engaging people who were open to talk.
"This VAR is pointless ehn. How many times dem go spoil matches. Match no dey interesting because of them." one man said. He looked so pained and I later found out he placed a bet on the match. But notwithstanding, as he and most of the men in the viewing center weren't happy with it, some who also made bets didn't have much of a problem with it as a whole.
"Just let the thing continue. The only problem for me, na the wasting of time. Dem they waste time gan and the match no dey sweet again, like before." another man said.
"Let us face it. The VAR is spoiling the atmosphere"
Most people were indifferent to it at first until the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The Nordin Amrabat issue intensified the controversy when a VAR review withdrew their goal against Spain. That match ended 2-2 with the Moroccan player making a derogatory comment directly in front of the camera saying "VAR is bulls**t". The Morocco Football association were fined for that and some other issues for fifty thousand pounds (£50,000). The controversy continued to the Portugal vs Iran match which ended up leaving players, fans and coaches frustrated. With retired player Alan Shearer posting on his twitter how "VAR is complete and utter bollocks".
After the World Cup, it was safe to say that more controversy had been added by the Video Assistant Referee. It was then introduced into the Leagues and had its' own share of controversy. This season however, the VAR was introduced to the Premier league and as so far played a conflicting and an argument-inducing role.
Soccer within the last three years joined the trend of other sports that have already adopted technology. Rugby League provided a "video referee" in 1996. Cricket included the "Hawk-eye ball tracking system" from 2001. Rugby Union introduced the "Television Match Official" (TMO) in 2001. And tennis began using Hawk-eye in 2002 to judge line calls. The reason the VAR is here is to check for "clear and obvious errors" but in a game being played by "flawed beings", wouldn't the VAR just have to interfere in most matches and 90% situations of every match?. Sometimes the VAR captures situations between players that occur behind the "on-field referee". Most people still haven't seen the importance. Casey Stoney, the coach of the Manchester United Female FC said the female league can't afford the technology and that she doesn't like the controversies. She went further to say
"I like the drama of football, I like the fact that a ref makes a mistake because they're human and, if I'm sitting in the crowd, I want to be able to celebrate a goal and not have to wait two minutes to see if it's onside, offside, if it touches someone's fingernail or toenail's offside."
Liverpool player, James Milner, spoke about how it messes with the atmosphere of the game. But I don't see it that way. It brings a new atmosphere to the game.
After all, change is difficult to adjust to, but it is also a constant. Everyone needs to see the results and stats.
At the 2018 World Cup at Russia, 95% out of 100% of decisions were correct without VAR and 99.3% out of 100% were correct with VAR. And what do we mean by "correct" here. It means every decision was in accordance with the rules and regulations. The Video Assistant Referee is doing its job and providing the efficiency needed in decision making in Soccer. It checks Clear and obvious errors, penalties, Red cards and mistaken identities. The results were the same in each league and competition it was introduced into, improved and efficient decisions were made.
There are still some rules to be made in accordance with specific situations like the "offside against the armpit controversy". When the calibrated lines showed Roberto Firmino's armpit was offside in a match. Arsene Wenger proposed that in a situation like offside, an offside should be given if the part of a players body that can be used to score is offside or beyond the offside line. The General Secretary of the International football association board, Lukas Brud, says that there won't be a decision on that yet. Given that the IFAB meet twice a year, it could be said that the VAR rules could be adjusted.
So it's safe to say with every proof given that the issue between the people and VAR is mainly the time it takes in a match and the change in atmosphere. Even though in European competitions and some leagues, the on-field referees have been instructed not to always consult the VAR, the. Decisions being made still end up being the right ones. Just like other leagues, the time taken by VAR should shorten with every season with good early signs in other leagues like the Serie A (Italian league), where VAR decisions improved from 1 minute 22 seconds in the first three games to 31.5 seconds over the whole season.
VAR is here to stay. Believe it or not, the VAR is still in its infant stage and still needs time to develop. All that is needed is a well-structured and defined rule guide to prevent further controversy.
I'd love to hear your opinions on the VAR in the comments.