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VAR is at its lowest ebb in LaLiga

The president of Leganés, Victoria Pavón, was driven by righteous indignation by what occurred against Levante last weekend to lodge an appeal with the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to replay the game from the 44th minute when the VAR system appeared to fail in a controversial penalty decision awarded to the visiting side. Pavón insists that the VAR was not working at the time of the incident, which the RFEF denies - and it remains to be seen if anyone can prove the matter one way or the other – but even if was not working the federation insists that Leganés’ appeal will not bear fruit. Games can be played without VAR, as the rules state. It is a merely a tool to help the match referee, much the same as the earpieces worn by the assistants running the lines. If it works then fine, but even if it doesn’t the referee is there and his word is sovereign.

The confusion surrounding VAR stems from its being exalted like the Tetragrammaton in the Hebrew Bible, a triangular form with an all-seeing eye in its centre. The referee is no longer viewed as the final authority, but rather as a deacon of this supreme entity who is no longer limited to pointing out some glaring error but to confirming or rejecting an offside given by a hair’s breath. VAR is considered a voice from the great beyond, its word to be taken as gospel. And we give the same name to the referee on the pitch as to the VAR referee, who is not seated among the angels on high, but in a room in a Madrid suburb. Thusly, if he ratifies a penalty that did not occur in the penalty area, to whom do we direct our pleas?

VAR changes making matters worse this season

It is also the case that RFEF chief Luis Rubiales has altered the system that was used last year, operated by Mediapro, for FIFA’s own version, which functions even more poorly than the original. In the context of the same battle, we are no longer witness to proceedings in the VAR room, as we were last season, because the emblem of the RFEF is present but that of LaLiga is not. Without being able to make their own judgment, fans can be permitted to think the worst, even more so if the same errors keep happening to the same teams, such as Leganés, who have now had two non-existent penalties awarded against them. And on top of everything, rules continue to be removed and added, which simply gives referees another set of headaches. VAR has started its second season of operation in much worse shape than it finished its first.