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Spanish referee Medina Cantalejo looks to improve VAR use in LaLiga


The Spanish soccer referees are doing their spiritual exercises in La Granja de San Ildefonso in the mountains north of Madrid; it’s a royal enclave just perfect for reflection and for sheltering, as far as possible, from the heat of this extreme summer. You know what they’re up to: physical tests, talks on refereeing, sharing experiences... It’s always good, because refereeing is difficult and unpopular and the appearance of VAR, which was designed to solve their problems, has only made them worse. Truth be told, to make things even more terrible, VAR was brought in during these historic times in which David Elleray is playing the sorcerer’s apprentice as the head of the International Board’s Committee of Referees altering rules that had been working well for a long time before he was born.

Less focus on VAR, more focus on the referee

Less focus on VAR and more on the referee, is the idea and the drive at the referees get-together. I’m glad. Everything that can be done to go back to the old ways, the Old Testament, as I like to call it, and forget the new ideas will be for the best. VAR, in very small doses, could have been useful, but it soon got out of hand because it is difficult for all of us to agree on what is clear and obvious and what is not. And so many precedents have already been set in each and every direction that everyone can find in the recent past a ruling that leads them to feel aggrieved. And even more so if the same referees have to review each year what is a handball, what is offside and other concepts that Elleray likes to fiddle with from time to time.

Difficult to fix the refereeing problems in soccer

It’s going to be like putting the toothpaste back in the tube after you’ve taken it out. But I praise the intention of the president of the refereeing committee, Luis Medina, to try and change tack on a number of issues, which from what they tell me also included subtle reproaches to referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, the International Board’s favourite, including forbidding the referee to take part in a guard of honour for a trophy winning side, Mateu’s most recent idea to attract attention. Furthermore, Medina reproached Mateu’s excess of mateyness (he even welcomed a friendly slap from Casemiro in the tunnel with a camera on him as a witness) and letting Hazard off after seriously injuring Akapo. Posing and showing off is very bad for refereeing, something we’ve known from the time of the very earliest refs.


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