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VAR doubts resurface at the Club World Cup


The Club World Cup has reunited us with VAR once again, and like at the previous edition of the tournament, the experience hasn’t filled me with enthusiasm. I don’t say that because of any influence on the results. There wasn’t any. VAR ruled out a Real Madrid goal in very debatable circumstances, which I shall return to, and correctly ruled out an Al Jazira goal for a narrow offside call, which made the spectre of catastrophe fade away. But that first decision, however inconsequential it turned out to be for the final result, gave the sensation that VAR is not going to resolve disputes, but aggravate them. If this happens to us in a Clásico, or a Madrid or Sevilla derby, we’ll all end up in the police station.

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VAR opens offside can of worms

VAR (or Hawkeye) is fine for blatant issues: whether the ball crossed the line or whether a played clearly strays offside. But less so for matters of interpretation… And that was the case with the goal that was ruled out for Real Madrid, in which Karim Benzema took up the wrong position. He was forward, and active. That, in years gone by, would have been flagged for offside. Now it is understood that it wouldn’t be. We’ve been fiddling with the laws for a while, depending on the situation and which country is interpreting it. It turned out that a Brazilian referee, after stopping play and viewing a replay, thought that Benzema was offside. And FIFA back that.

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Hawkeye is fine - it resolves objective decisions

That, by the way, came after a goal by Casemiro was ruled out for a supposed foul. The referee gave it at first, then eventually disallowed it after reviewing the play on a screen by the touchline. Olé. No goal, goal, no goal… A reconsideration of the latest criteria for offside will come after that verdict, and it will be more permissive than in previous years. I know that VAR is inevitable. It will generate money through licenses and provide employment for ex referees, but nothing that I am seeing is making me calmer about the prospect. Yes to Hawkeye, which resolves objective decisions. But I fear that VAR will bring a lot of confusion and discord.