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Real Madrid - Elche games lay bare the issues with VAR


A, shall we say, “eclectic fan,” a member of that majority that don’t follow all the weekend’s action but only tune in for the games involving the big teams, told me that since Medina Cantalejo was appointed as head of the Spanish Football Federation’s Technical Committee of Referees, he is now seeing referees he didn’t before, and has stopped seeing some that he did. He wondered if football has now become like Spanish state broadcaster TVE, “changing their presenters depending on whether the socialists or conservatives are in power.”

It is true that some referees who used to be on the television every week have been seen less, and others who were less well-known are being seen more. But it remains to be seen if this is a trend or simply an effect of the latest covid wave in Spain. In any case, where Medina Cantalejo has a task at hand is in the VAR room. Just in the two games between Real Madrid and Elche this week we have seen several discrepancies: Marcelo did not touch Tete Morente, he was sent off and VAR did not overrule the decision. Toni Kroos fouled Pere Milla just before the Vinicius penalty and VAR remained silent. On the Eden Hazard penalty VAR was correct but forced the protocol that if the referee has seen contact, the eye in the sky will not intervene. And it’s best not to talk about handballs, we have seen so many of all types, with so many given or not given under the new regulations.

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VAR as the Esperanto of football

That is the problem with VAR. It is an errant tool that was born, much like Esperanto, from a combination of good intentions and stupidity, but as it is there, it is also necessary to fill the VAR room with ad hoc experts so that the damage it causes is at least limited. There is little problem with incidents that involve positioning, but with those that require a judgment call there is endless confusion because of incessant fiddling with the rules and regulations. And what the average fan is starting to think is that VAR has become a cynical mockery of itself.


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