We’re through the first half of the season and unfortunately, VAR is in already at a new low. On Sunday, we saw more incidents – things happening that shouldn’t – and that, on top of the recent outcry over the penalty not awarded to Vinicius against Real Sociedad, is contributing to give the system a bad name. For [Spanish referee Carlos] Velasco Carballo, who is expected to give some explanations later today, it’s more a question of getting used to it. The downside is that it’s not easy to get accustomed to something when others are tampering with it or sticking their oar in and that’s what happening. The number of coaches, clubs and aggrieved fans is increasing.
It’s worth pointing out that no system is perfect, but I think it’s fair to say that in general, things have improved. During the first half of the campaign, VAR was consulted 59 times in 190 games. It’s a tiresome procedure but almost always a useful one. Those 59 interruptions have helped put right 58 mistakes which at first sight, the match official out on the pitch missed. In that sense, it’s worked. How many wrong calls has it missed? I’m sure everyone will come up with their own figures, and point out their own injustices, but overall, I don’t think there can be 10 or 12. So of the 70 or so mistakes we would have had without VAR, we’ve whittled that down to about 12. Ok, it’s not perfect, but it’s not bad either.
Fine-tuning the system
The bad part is that now, those borderline calls hurt much more because we know that there is the chance for the match officials to reconsider a move on video - and if they don’t, we don’t know why. And there’s the rub – the fine line between what gets reviewed and what doesn’t. The penalty wrongly given to Atleti wasn’t subjected to a revision by VAR and yet a lengthy move which led to a Koke subsequently being ruled out was – it wasn’t given for a minor foul which happened 10 touches before the ball was in the back of the; I am talking about two incidents in the same game. It’s that criteria which decides what gets reviewed and what doesn’t that Velasco has to fine-tune, before resentment gets out of hand and there are more deceivers like Florentino, who try to conceal their own failures by blaming the system.