Football should be the focus, not VAR
November 08, 2023
It is a shame that fantastic games turn into a game of who was wronged more due to bad officiating. I don’t like talking about officiating because it’s a part of the game that can’t be controlled by a player or a team. They are their own entity.
I don’t blame teams for complaining because even one goal against could decide the Premier League this season. It is that close; it could come down to goal difference. The refereeing isn’t good enough. They are making too many mistakes.
The only instance where I could say “this is makes me question the integrity of the game” was Liverpool’s disallowed goal against Tottenham. That was a goal that was ruled offside; VAR (video assistant referee) checked for offside, VAR drew the lines, and then there was a miscommunication between VAR and the on-field referee about the final ruling.
VAR drew the lines and ruled it was onside, not offside, but they communicated just “check complete” to the on-field referee. The on-field referee then thought that meant check complete, the on-field decision stood, no goal, it was offside. But that was incorrect; it was a goal, VAR ruled onside.
I’ve never seen anything like that. I’ve seen plenty of instances where a video was inconclusive, there’s a judgment call that goes wrong, they forget to draw a line, errors. That’s different. Nothing compares to a miscommunication where the call of what the ruling was was not relayed correctly.
I watch matches that don’t have VAR, and I’m jealous. I’m jealous of the fact that play moves on. There’s no several minutes long delay to draw a line off a man’s shoulder or zooming in on a hand in the box. You get the call from the referee, live, once, and then you move on. But then there’s an offside called that’s clearly onside, and you’re immediately reminded why VAR was such a good idea.
All I want is goal-line technology, semi-automatic offside technology like that used in the World Cup, Champions League, Serie A, etc., and on-field referees. The human VAR checks for offside, penalties, fouls, handballs in the box, and red cards just create drama, frustration, and long delays in the game.
The players are humans. The coaches are humans. The referees are humans. The officials will make mistakes. It is a part of the game. It will forever be a part of the game; bad officiating will always exist so long as humans are involved in making the decisions.
Get the call right for offside from a computer, automated, from semi-automated offside technology. Keep goal-line technology to say if the ball went over the line for a goal. Take most of the ambiguity out, remove the drama. Get rid of everything else, and play on.
The quicker we automate unnecessary processes, the quicker we’ll get back to the way Football was and should be. Get back to talking about the game.