I’ve been a long term advocate of introducing technology in football. Human error had been influencing games for decades. Germany can point back to the World Cup Final in 1966 against my very own country and feel aggrieved. I am guilty: I have called various referees an array of expletives in a loud frustrated voice, often forgetting that referees are human, under great amounts of pressure and they can’t catch everything. Having technological aid would help cancel out some of those mistakes.
For years, FIFA had decided against it, with the former president Sepp Blatter being dead against it. Cynics say it was so FIFA could retain a certain amount of control over games so decisions could go the way of the more money-making teams in football, then excuse themselves with a half-baked apology to the losing team followed by a typical “c’est la vie” shrug of the shoulders. Remember Thierry Henry’s handball against Ireland in the playoff for the 2010 World Cup?
Blatter’s reluctance was based on how it would damage the flow and spontaneity of the beautiful game, and like most of what Sepp Blatter said I passed off as nonsense. Yet with the introduction of VAR (Video Assistant Referee), he might have a point.
The waiting on decisions means fans and players are unable to celebrate (or commiserate) on a goal, losing a undeniable slice of the passion. Players have to wait an age to know if they are being awarded a penalty or not.
There are also questions regarding who decides on what is reviewed; a lack of transparency so to speak (it’s not as if FIFA has never been accused of such things). Is it the referee or other officials who decide? And excuse the bias, why wasn’t the two wrestling incidents by against Harry Kane reviewed in the game against Tunisia? Two very obvious penalties which probably have ended with England winning more than 2-1. Had the match ended 1-1, I daresay there would have been more questions about the officiating, both with the referee and the VAR system. It therefore begs the important question, has VAR improved refereeing?
Sure, the VAR is going through a teething process which hopefully will improve over time.
But what do you think? Keep it, or bin it?