Var success is Var away
Offside is one area it is pretty good
I am going to start off by saying that I am, in general, in favour of Var. Why so? Because it does have the capability to get decisions right and that has to be a good thing. But it is not working as it should for many reasons. I am going to go into these reasons, and, as always, offer my solutions. I feel that a lot of people may agree with me, but maybe not.
First off, I am going to start with offside. This is one area it can get right but there is one big downside, sometimes it takes ages to come to a conclusion. My argument is that a time deadline is put on this and if it is not clear after it, the decision goes to the attacker. Nobody wants the game to be held up by Var. It is the biggest drawback to it. So a time limit on all decisions is necessary. If you can’t decide on offside quickly, or indeed any decision, then the referee’s decision is final and we move on.
The losers will always be unhappy
Now, a big problem with Var is always going to be that the winning side’s fans in a Var argument will be happy and the losing side unhappy. But I can think off one way to ameliorate such arguments. I don’t believe anyone wants to see a lot of time wasted on whether a player is a hair offside, by looking at a thousand angles. They have a 3D system in effect to look into all decisions so ordinary fans never get to see how they come to decisions. They never show all the angles they are looking at. They should have a structure where fans can see the process behind how they made their decisions, perhaps available to fan clubs or the general public on a website. They make a request to see how they arrived at the decision and then watch everything that the Var officials have watched including their thought process. I have to assume that they feel there is good reason. At least then the fans can see why they made their decisions and accusations of bias or whatever can be laid to rest.
There is a belief that the big sides get the decisions
Another problem is, of course, that some fans see every decision against them by the ref or linesman as wrong. Such fans will never feel Var is good except when the decision goes to their team. I feel we have to live with that. Most fans, though, accept that the ref’s decisions are often right, even if against their team. I know when I see our players clattering into someone I am fearful they will be sent off or give away a penalty. In the grounds, however, fans scream at the ref that the player down is faking, and the chant goes up of “Same old blank, always cheating” I have heard this even when a player has been seriously injured. A good start is to ban players surrounding officials as they do in basketball. Logic dictates that such players or fans should never be capable of influencing decisions so Var, if it gets things right for the fair fan, has done a good job.
Hawkeye is good, it makes people happy
Penalties, goals and tackles are the next big areas to look at. I would argue, with the first, that again a time limit is set, and if it is not clear, then the ref’s decision is good. The Hawkeye goal line technology is good, and no-one argues with that, but crowded boxes at corners etc. mean that it can be difficult to spot a foul. A time limit would help again but I believe we should ban all shirt pulling in any area of the pitch and a free or penalty given if in the box. This would stop all the unseemly pulling and dragging that goes on in football, but also make it easier and quicker to spot fouls in a crowded area. I have no idea why they started allowing shirt pulling anyway just because it is away from the ball. It should be banned totally on every part of the pitch. I have a feeling some fans may not agree with me on this point.
Tackles can be tricky to judge
Tackles are extremely difficult to pin down, though. A slight mistime can mean a yellow or red card. But also the ridiculous amount of diving that goes on, with players falling down as if shot, sometimes with no contact whatsoever. What they are trying to do with Var is decide if a players movement suggest that he is going down from the slightest touch and you can try to judge that by the direction they go down, and even when they start to go down. In fairness to Var, I have watched many tackles repeated on TV and still not been sure what happened. Again, all I can offer is a time deadline and then the ref’s decision stands. I think that is one area that we may never get fully right, because of all the cheating that goes on.
Var will get better, I hope
One has to assume that the Var technology will get better, but some of the problems arise from this culture of cheating, of win at all costs. Some sports like golf and snooker require players to call foul on themselves. I would love to see this introduced in soccer but I truly doubt it ever will.
Penalties are also hard to judge
So where can we go from here? I absolutely believe that an acceptable time deadline is necessary for all judgments. That shirt pulling is banned, that surrounding the officials is banned, and all Var rulings can be scrutinized by fans. These factors will have a good effect on recruitment of referees as they stand a lesser chance of being abused or given death threats by fans. We need officials who are good, fair and unbiased. But whether they are or not, the game cannot go ahead without officials. Var has the benefit that the anger gets directed more at them than the ref. This could mean that potential fair refs may sign up more if they know that they won’t receive the horrendous abuse they do receive at the moment.
Losing fans are never happy
So Var, assuming it does get better, could be a great asset to the game. More decisions right, ref’s unafraid to make unpopular decisions but I do feel that we need these changes I have mentioned above. A quicker Var would be a good start. Good, fair and unbiased is the gold standard they should be aiming for.