The Spanish referees, with Velasco Carballo at the head, turned up yesterday to talk about VAR and other matters. For me, in itself, this is a magnificent initiative, and a very positive improvement on what has gone on in recent times. With Villar, the Federation was a closed shop, and even more so when it came to arbitration. He established a distrustful distance between them and the general society. Now the door is open, and you can look in, make comment and they will even disclose information. A practical example of this was seen with the dialogue between the referee on the pitch and the one upstairs, discussing the use of VAR for the penalty decision against Varane on Luis Suárez at the Camp Nou.
Football regulations lost clarity
People understand. Football is difficult, because although the 'rules' are relatively simple and clear, there is a grey area open to interpretation. Those regulations have also been tweaked over recent years, not always for the better, and there has not always been a clear communication to commentators including to former-referees. Fans of my generation were brought up with Pedro Escartín's Rules of Association Football, which clearly highlighted any changes in each edition, and was always an authoritative source. From that we have passed on poorly updated versions to many ex-referees, who are giving their 'expert' views on radio and television, and the consequence of that is confusion.
VAR efforts appreciated
For this reason it is good that we hear from those at the top of the leadership team from time to time, so that they can clarify. Their 'leit motiv' has been VAR, a system most of us are relatively satisfied with (personally, more than I had expected), although objections can still be found. It is challenging to establish firm criteria on which plays to intervene on or not. For my liking, it aids decisions on penalties and goals scored, but less so for red card decisions, and when it comes to offsides the reliance on technology means it can only be used for matches with several cameras, as the analyst Nacho Tellado showed in 'El Chiringuito'. But, with everything considered, it is working. And above all, the intention from them to help us disseminate it is appreciated.