The Premier League introduced VAR for the first time this season but it hasn’t been without controversy. During its debut season, it’s received a lot of negative feedback, there has been social media takes on VAR which has prompted groups to form against the technology and use #VAROUT.
Football Law Makers have already stated that the use of VAR within the Premier League is not being used correctly and should only be used for clear and obvious decisions, not the nit picking offside decisions we have seen that has caused most of the outrage to form against. When you look at some of the decisions it’s not hard to see why people want to see the end of it already, there has been offside decisions against someone for having an armpit in an offside position, a heel in an offside position. We’re talking millimetres offside which wouldn’t be visible to the Naked eye in real time. It won’t be long till we are seeing someone called offside for having a hair or even nose in an offside position.
Just last week, there was a decision made by VAR in the game between Sheffield United and West Ham. Sheffield United were leading the game 1-0 when in the 90th minute Robert Snodgrass grabbed what looked like being the equaliser for the hammers but for VAR to disallow the goal for a handball against Declan Rice in the build up to the goal. But even replays show that the ball was headed onto the arm of Rice and those who seen the replay would agree that there was no stopping this and the handball was totally accidental. Even VAR didn’t get the decision right.
Since VAR has been introduced, the linesman has to keep his flag down and let play progress. But say a player is played in behind the defence and he chases the ball and damages his Hamstring or is brought down by the defender and suffer a nasty injury, all that could have been prevented if the linesman flagged for offside. If the decision is clear, that a player is standing offside, the linesman should flag and free kick awarded as happened before VAR.
The FA Cup introduced VAR last season and has continued this season, but the technology is only used at Premier League grounds. Which gives an unfair advantage and could determine winners and losers in games. An example of this exact occasion could be seen during the Chelsea v Nottingham Forest game, where Forest were denied a goal because of an arm being offside and VAR ruling the goal out. But had that been at the City Ground, the goal might have stood and been a completely different game because VAR wouldn’t have been in operation. A lower tiered club could benefit financially from a replay but with VAR decisions not at their ground, it gives an unfair advantage.
But, VAR is not all bad. Believe it or not, VAR has some good points to it’s game. Take for example the 2018 World Cup. VAR was used the way it should have been, yes the games were slowed down but the decisions were correct and on the biggest stage of them all, it saw many teams benefit from vital decisions. The game in the 3rd round of the FA Cup between Derby and Crystal Palace, the referee used it the way it was designed to be handled. After an altercation between Huddles tone and Milovjevic, the referee awarded both players a yellow card. But the referee was informed of the altercation by those in charge of VAR. Rather than listen to what they had to say, like most referees have this season, he went over to the monitor and reviewed the situation himself which resulted in Palace’s Milovjevic being sent off.
VAR can be included in the game, but there is a lot to be improved with the technology if it is too succeed and continue to be a part of our game. It might slow the game down, it might take a while for the referees to get the decisions right but in time the process will be speeded up. All that needs to change is use the technology the way it was designed, that is for clear and obvious errors and stop nit picking at tiny little details. The referee should also take charge more, review the situation himself and make the call based on what he has seen rather than listen to those in the VAR room and trust their judgement. Until the main issues are addressed, fans and pundits alike will continue to push VAR out.