A friend of mine was asking yesterday what I've got against the video assistant referee (VAR) system. I replied that up to now we've been able to put up with officiating foul-ups as a product of the fact that refs "have a split second to make a decision". Now, though, their mistakes will take on a new dimension. Can you imagine an incident such as Gonzalo Jara's elbow on Timo Werner, which saw a yellow card given after a video review, in El Clásico? And don't forget: when VAR comes to LaLiga, there won't be one, but ten: one at each ground. Ten teams of three with as many different interpretations of the game. And ten referees with theirs too. It's inevitable that, within the same round of matches, identical or similar cases will lead to differing resolutions. And the controversy will only be fiercer.
I'm all for technology on objective calls - but as for the rest...
I'm all for technology for ghost goals and offsides, i.e. anything that's an objective call. But for those moments that are subject to interpretation, I don't like it and I don't find it necessary. I know that it's done in other sports, but none of them are better off for it. I also know, though, that it's here to stay, however I feel about it. Together, a coalition of technophilia, the reinvention of the wheel, the money to be made from the system and the cushy job prospects it'll give former and/or failed refs and linesmen (that's where the VARs will come from) will form an unstoppable force. And I do like technology: my response to my pal was one I wrote from my tablet, sitting at Vienna Central Station. As I did so, the memory of the kerfuffle that sending a message from abroad used to be was certainly not lost on me.
I don't see VAR persuading me it isn't as pointless as goalline assistants
Even with VAR, my love of the game won't diminish, but I'll find it as needless as goalline officials. And the tests so far give me scant confidence my mind will be changed. There have been times it has worked well, such as the Antoine Griezmann goal rightly disallowed in Spain's win in France, and Gerard Deulofeu's also correctly 'un-disallowed' strike in the same game. We benefited from both, to boot. But at the Club World Cup, there was the penalty given in the Nacional-Kashima clash for a challenge on a player due to receive the ball in an offside position. And there were those farcical scenes after Cristiano Ronaldo scored: goal, no goal... At the Confed Cup, VAR has failed to punish a foul in the box by José Fonte on Francisco Silva, and seen Milorad Mazic spare Jara a red card despite watching the replay.