Decisions in football have been contentious since the game began and as with most sport, decision making or help with it should enhance the game. For years the game has been crying out for referees and their assistants to garner some help from the authorities as the pace of the game has increased and getting to the point where the naked eye can struggle to keep up with the speed.
The introduction of VAR (video assistant referee) was trialled and then brought in for the 2018 Men’s World Cup and introduced into the Premier League on a permanent basis this season, Italy and Germany’s top divisions also use the system.
For years both cricket and the NFL have used video replays to help the referee to get decisions correct and in both sport’s those referees and umpires were pretty much spot on without the need for help. The worry for football was the speed of the game would dramatically slow down while decisions are awaited whilst the two mentioned above are played over a longer time frame and don’t affect the length of the game.
To say it’s been a contentious subject in just the first month or so of the season is easily an understatement and underlined in dramatic fashion between Leicester City and Tottenham. Tottenham people would agree to have been on the right end of VAR decisions so far this season, what the system picked up though on reflection is correct in respect of whats gone their way.
At the King Power Stadium the game and its decisions have now been diminished to the minutest of millimetres. There appeared no problem in the build up to Serge Aurier putting Spurs two goals in front and seemingly on their way to three points and second place in the table.
As is correct VAR looked at the goal, and a hint of offside was discovered against Heung Min-Son. Replays upon replays at the time and still hours after the game shows no clear daylight between Son and the defender yet VAR decides it’s offside. Did the assistant referee flag for offside? No, because the game is moving too fast. Is VAR right? That is the million dollar question in itself.
Based on that decision, there can be no game where one millimetre is now onside, and you can guarantee there will be more like these over the season that are not given. VAR was bought in to check clear and obvious situations, penalty shouts, fouls leading up to goals but the whole process is slowing down the game while these are checked.
It must be done within sixty seconds maximum the referee has less time in real time so why should there be a two to three minute break? If it’s not clear and obvious like yesterday’s decision, then move on. Game breaks to check in cricket and the NFL are part of the make-up, if football goes down that route you will lose some of the experience and people will turn away from a game which brings in a system that slows everything down.
VAR can be the system to make the game better, remember back to Pedro Mendes goal for Spurs at Old Trafford or Frank Lampard’s World Cup goal against Germany, both goals awarded with VAR if it had been around in those days. The game itself is worth too much money at the top level and this system needs to be 100% correctly used and in the right manner or people will start to believe the beautiful game is becoming ugly.
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37