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Football News: Another VARce: The Continual Fall

Another VARce: The Continual Fall
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I think first it is important to acknowledge that officials jobs are damn hard, and are not made any easier by players diving, cheating, time wasting, basically doing anything they can to gain an advantage from an official. If we want refereeing standards to improve then we should also be asking for standards of behaviour amongst players to improve as well.

Serious punishments for diving, time wasting, surrounding the referee, should be meted out until players and managers (and I absolutely, as a Liverpool fan, include Klopp in this) learn to respect refereeing decisions. Right or wrong if the atmosphere is such that a referee can make a decision without torrents of abuse and pressure then they may start to make better, more consistent decisions.

This is the crux of it all: consistency and accuracy. The whole aim of VAR is supposed to be increased accuracy and consistency, and reduced numbers of mistakes. Its success will ultimately be judged on whether or not such consistency and accuracy is being achieved and, in its current state, you would have to say that the waters are as muddy as they have always been.

Some dangerous tackles go unpunished, some receive an absolute punitive response; some highly dubious handballs are given, some more obvious ones are ignored; some offsides are given by a hairs width, some aren't given by a hairs width - consistently inconsistent. The way VAR is applied to offsides is clearly flawed, and it's impact on games has been overwhelmingly negative - does anybody enjoy the play ons when a player is clearly offside? Who would have of thought we'd long for the good old days of an official just making a call and sticking with it?

As a Liverpool fan the weekends events, red cards (or lack thereof), penalties (or lack thereof), and bizarre explanations from officials have prompted me into writing this. Am I bitter? Perhaps, but many teams have experienced this unreal lack of consistency except now we have been presented with "reasons", and I use inverted commas because they make zero sense, as to why and how decisions were reached. According to Klopp the referee Tierney didn't award a penalty for the foul on Jota because 'Jota stopped' and was 'looking for it'. Now looking for it he may have been, only Jota knows, but he is allowed to stop (or slow down as was the actual case) to steady himself for a shot - a defender is not allowed to just barge into him without taking any of the ball.

Under what rule/ law of the game is Tierney making his decision on? Similarly the Harry Kane tackle was not deemed worthy of a red card because 'Robertson's foot wasn't planted'. Are we to assume then that players must actually have to suffer broken legs in order to justify the sending off an opponent? Because if Robertson's leg was planted, with the speed, lateness, and recklessness of Kane's lunge, it would have been broken. It is an extraordinary interpretation of the rules and again I would ask what law of the game is this justification based off? Is this a feeble excuse an attempt to justify the incompetence of both Tierney and the VAR official? Because it sure feels like it.

The PMGOL, whilst it continues to make ludicrous excuses for blatant errors, is not fit for purpose. If they simply came out and said 'the officials got it wrong, Kane will be retrospectively banned for 3 games' they would have far more credibility. Instead they simply back any referee, irrespective of the decision, and refuse to even try and learn and improve from errors. If you refuse to even recognise your problems you're going to struggle to rectify them and, unfortunately, the PMGOL have their head in their heads in the sand.

Tinfoil hat time. I'm not usually a conspiracy theorist, quite the opposite, but it does seem noticeable that the big clubs (again as a Liverpool fan I include my own in this) seem to get a higher proportion of contentious decisions in their favor. Now of course this could just be the manifestation of the previously discussed incompetence, we cannot rule that out, but it seems odd that the "big teams" seem to benefit so much more.

One of the things I thought VAR was going to address was this perceived favouritism of the big clubs, United's spell under Ferguson often highlighted as an embodiment of this. Instead it seems to of given officials more tools to gift wrap things for the bigger clubs. Contentious penalties? VAR check. yes if you're a big club, no if you're not. The recent penalties "earned" by Chelsea, United and City were testament to this - there is very little chance such decisions would've been given had the tables been reversed.

My opinion is that, if teams wanted to seek advantage from officials via nefarious means, then VAR makes it even easier to implement it. I cannot say with certainty that it is, but my opinion is when there are huge sums of money floating around, in any area of business, that corruption and skullduggery are always possible. Italian football has had multiple scandals involving this, is the Premier League so squeaky clean?

We are again left wondering "how do we improve things" and, sadly, the answers are the same as they were a year or more ago. The PMGOL needs a radical overhaul, Mike Dean needs firing, the officials clearly not good enough for the Premier League need demoting and retraining. VAR itself needs its role to be clearly defined: is it an advisory tool? Can it/ should it overrule the on field official when an error has been made? Who should be in charge of operating VAR?

For me it should be the authority on any key incorrect decision, it should be run by a completely separate body/ organisation, and it should be completely abs utterly separate from the current officials and their organisation. Will this happen? I'd bet money on it not, but dissatisfaction is bubbling and, as the decisions get more bizarre and unjustifiable, things are going to come to a head.

I cannot believe the officials and VAR continue to dominate the headlines - I'm sick of it, aren't we all? - but whilst such ludicrous decisions are the norm it seems we will be talking about it for a long time yet. Let's hope decisions like these aren't what define the winners and losers at the end of the season.

Written by Seano_ December 21 2021 15:01:58


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