We all want to see the correct decisions being made and that is why video assistant referees were introduced but their implementation doesn’t seem to have been thought through.
The introduction of VAR to the Premier League this season has not advanced the game at all but with every passing week has instead created more controversy and uncertainty.
Referees have always been accused of inconsistency. All VAR has done is replace one inconsistency with another and asked fans to accept it. It turns out that fans prefer the old inconsistency.
The first problem with VAR is that it is being used too much. At the moment, incidents are being remotely reviewed that fans have not even noticed let alone questioned.
Secondly, the role of referees has been diminished. Premier League protocol means refs aren’t using the pitchside screens, so VARs are making decisions – and that isn’t how it was meant to be.
Referees must be given the chance to watch replays themselves and then be seen to be having the final decision.
I really think they would prefer that system. I was at Everton on Sunday and the official, Martin Atkinson, got awful abuse for the use of VAR when he hadn’t even asked for it; it was imposed on him.
When refs are watching a replay it should be shown to fans in the stadium. That isn’t the case now and it is a negative experience for the match-going supporter.
Fans should be able see what is being reviewed. Thy may still disagree with the outcome but that’s always been the way in football, and, with winter coming, at least they won’t be sitting still in the cold.
Lastly, the way offsides are being reviewed also need to change. How did so many people sit around a table discussing this and still get it so wrong?
If VAR is going to check for offsides using freeze-frame replays, they have to draw the line from the player’s hip – not their underarm, as was the case in Roberto Firmino’s disallowed goal for Liverpool at the weekend.
Fundamentally, the hip is a more accurate measurement of where a player is. Decisions made on that basis would be understandable, consistent and believable.
Other sports, such as rugby union, cricket and tennis, have enhanced their games by using technology and in football the recent addition of goal-line technology has worked a treat.
So for VAR to work better, the Premier League ought to follow this simple checklist: use it less; reviews must be watched by referees and shown to fans; and measure offsides from the hip.
On top of that, all leagues and competitions should implement it in the same way, otherwise that is introducing another inconsistency. VAR is not going away, but football needs to take it back to its basics.
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