Latest posts by Charlie Widdicombe (see all)
- Boreham Wood vs Tranmere Rovers: Vanarama National League Play-Off Final Preview - May 10, 2018
- So VAR, So Good? Is Video Assistant Referee Systems Helping? - January 29, 2018
- Sanchez And Mkhitaryan: Winners And Losers - January 22, 2018
To many, the FA Cup is the ultimate showcase of British footballing tradition. There’s nothing like watching Jurgen Klopp giving an interview in a tea room in Exeter, or Jose Mourinho crammed into a small Yeovil dugout. It can, and does, provide upsets like no other competition.
It is ironic, then, that the hugely controversial VAR (Video Assistant Referee) system is being tried out extensively in the FA Cup. In its six games in English football so far, it has contributed to a number of decisions, such as instating a goal for Kelechi Iheanacho when the Leicester striker initially had an effort ruled out for offside. There was an infinite number of perspectives on VARs use, and these games have created just as many questions as it has answered.
The most controversial game of the Fourth Round was undoubtedly between Liverpool and West Brom. Won 3-2 by the latter, VAR was used to rule out and confirm West Brom ‘goals’, and award Liverpool a penalty. Although not many would argue against the final decisions that were made, complaints about the delay in making decisions, was widespread. This was especially obvious in the awarding of the Liverpool penalty, when referee Craig Dawson made contact with VAR before heading to a pitch side monitor to see the action himself. This delayed the game by a whole 3 minutes and is exactly what those against VAR don’t want.
What bemuses me here is why Dawson felt the need to view the incident himself. Isn’t the point of VAR an ‘assistant’, who’s judgement should be more informed as they have time to review the incident? The need for a referee to question the VAR decision only means that they don’t trust the judgement made by another qualified referee. The always be huge if the on-field referee continues to have the option of consulting a pitch-side screen?
Despite its obvious flaws at present, VAR ensures that the correct decision is made. Compare the Liverpool-West Brom game to Manchester City-Cardiff a day later. When 1-0 up, City midfielder Bernardo Silva had a goal ruled off as Leroy Sane was ‘offside’ and ‘interfered with play’ in the opinion of the linesman, neither of which were the case. But there was no VAR, and after extensive discussions with the linesman, referee Lee Mason decided to disallow the goal. Even after play had resumed, Mason had to go and speak to Man City manager Guardiola, who was incensed by the decision. So, the decision was made incorrectly, AND the time delay was almost as long as the VAR decision-making in the Liverpool-West Brom game, where the decisions made with VAR were the right ones
Whatever your view is on VAR, it’s hard to see it not being used. Many have cried out for it for years, and football needs to adapt to an ever-increasing technological age and modern society. Other sports such as PDC Darts and Formula 1 are in the process of scrapping walk-on girls and grid girls respectively, despite a huge backlash from many. Although not the same category of issue in society, VAR has and will cause controversy through ‘breaking traditions’ (or something along those lines); but football could not turn its back on something that makes the correct decisions and that has been so heavily invested in.
VAR is here to stay- whether you like it or not.