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The question of how and when VAR should be used


One way or another, practically everyone involved in Spanish football views VAR as an improvement. Now, the referee has a safety net, and if he does make a mistake, he can be told to review the incident onscreen and has the chance to change his decision. The main doubt is what actually merits being reviewed. During this weekend’s action, there were various appeals which turned into protests. Why was my appeal given and another not? Why was this incident reviewed yet that one wasn’t? And it’s the same with penalties. There is always someone who has the feeling that they are being unfairly treated, for being the smaller club, and now it’s not just about someone making a decision in a fraction of a second but via a highly sophisticated system.

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VAR being too too frequently

For me, the biggest problem is that VAR is being used for too many things. The system has been devised (as Velasco Carballo explained concisely to Spanish journalists) to be used “with minimum interruption for maximum gain. It was about, as we saw in the World Cup, avoiding glaring mistakes by the referee; a discussion-free way of alerting him to incidents he might not have been able to see because of his position on the field or due to his view being obstructed. But if it is starting to be used more frequently, and VAR is consulted a lot during a game, everyone is going to feel as though they have the right to an appeal. For example, was there any need to revise the penalty on Carlos Bacca yesterday? VAR wasn’t developed for those kinds of decisions.

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Murky criteria

And while it’s being used too often and unnecessarily for moves inside the penalty area, there seems to be tolerance for dangerous challenges which are being overlooked. There’s a certain firmness on elbowing but less with reckless, injury-causing tackles, which can be viewed in detail on slow-motion replays but rarely merit a red card. With one thing and another, it’s starting to dawn on some observers that the criteria needs to be a little clearer. It’s true that some clubs didn’t bother showing up for the informative workshops that were held to explain the system. But I think it’s wrong to discredit the system for a difference of opinion between those at the top and those further down the order. I hope Velasco Carballo can do something to resolve any doubts about how it should be used.