There are moments in everyone’s life when that anticipated follow-up album turns out to be a steaming pile of shit. After years in the making the Stone Roses ‘Second coming,’ might as well have been locked deep into a warehouse like the lost Ark in Indiana Jones and the raiders of the lost Ark. This incidentally can be said of the Star Wars prequels which certainly do not get better with age.
VAR or virtual assistant referee in my opinion should fall into this category of joining the Lost Ark. It is meant t to ensure that the correct decision is made within the game. An aid to help the referee who may initially have missed an incident. Of course it sounds good. Technology should be used to help improve the game but this is the craw of the matter does it hinder the flow of the game?
Football unlike rugby or cricket that does use something similar to VAR is a flowing game. There is no natural break in play unless there is an injury or an infringement. From what I have seen from VAR this season’s trial in the FA cup it has disrupted the flow of the game, led to confusion for spectators inside the ground, and in some cases diluted the atmosphere whilst everyone waits for a decision.
Confusion reigned over the Liverpool and West Brom cup tie which seemed to take an age for the referee to review. Tottenham and Rochdale was also similar as fans tried to work out why play had stopped. Then of course there was the wonky lines when Manchester United’s Juan Mata was incorrectly called offside by VAR.
It doesn’t help that the virtual assistant referee is based in a small cramped office near Croydon but decisions need to be quick. There are those that believe that as a lot is at stake that it shouldn’t really matter how long it takes for the correct decision to be made. Again the majority of decisions have shown to be the correct one and teething problems are to be expected. Over time VAR will improve in the time it takes to make a decision.
This though is where I disagree and like that anticipated follow up album does not get better with more listens. Football is meant to be a flowing game with passion shown by the teams and supporters. VAR affects this to the detriment of the game. For example it definitely affected the atmosphere at Anfield when Liverpool played West Brom. Anything that has an adverse effect to match cannot be good for the game.
I am willing to accept that referees are human and that sometimes they will make the wrong decision. Sometimes it will go for your team other times against. Football isn’t a FIFA game where every decision is instantaneous and correct.
Emotion is part and parcel of the game. The sheer glee if you’ve stolen one over an arch rival or the complete outrage of the referee not giving you that ‘stone wall,’ penalty. Sometimes it can kindle an atmosphere like a bush fire as the crowd lets the referee know of their displeasure. It can even lead to a more vocal support to the team that can help change the match.
One of the reasons why football is such a popular sport because it is a free-flowing game and with the right teams can be end to end stuff. This in turn generates the excitement amongst the crowd and even the viewers or listeners at home. VAR without a question disrupts this and in turn affects the game as a spectacle.
Being a supporter means that allow yourself to sometimes see incidents through Arsene (I didn’t see the incident in front of me) Wenger glasses. Even it has been a blatant foul I have argued that my team’s player has won the ball.
I am not adverse to technology and think that goal line technology is something that was long overdue. The difference between that and VAR is that the decision is quick and clear whether the ball has crossed or not. VAR all said and done is still someone’s opinion. How many times for instance have incidents been replayed on match of the day and there has been divided opinions on whether it is a foul or not?
Decisions in football will not be perfect and that has to be expected. The game can be fast or players will pull a fast one on the referee. It is all part and parcel which in some respects adds to the charm of the game. Not everything is perfect and football decisions is one of many life’s unfairness.
VAR takes away the excitement and the flow of the game for me. Any new initiatives such as goal line technology or even bringing in the back pass rule is meant to enhance football. VAR doesn’t do that. It distances the spectators inside the stadium and dampens any atmosphere like a summer shower.
Sometimes you can’t have perfection and suffer as a result in the attempts to obtain it. No matter how many times VAR is used it is football’s Phantom Menace and the other Star War prequels. Football is based on emotion and VAR removes it as clinically as a medical surgeon.
There are some things you can’t mess about with in football and that is the flow and passion of the game. Accept that there will be mistakes made by referees and just simply the game that excites us football fans.