Written by @JamesWootton95
Refereeing has often been one of the big talking points this season due to the amount of controversial decisions and the introduction of VAR. Post-match analysis tends to be plagued with what referees could or should have done, a recent example being Liverpool’s clash with Tottenham last weekend.
With the integration of VAR in English football, the time might be upon us where referees may no longer be subject to examination after games. However, VAR has come with its fair share of controversies. Some of the key arguments that fans have with the system is about how long it takes for a decision to be made when consulting the VAR, and how to keep fans in attendance in the loop with what’s going on, like in cricket for example when decisions go to the third umpire.
Technology is not something that’s new in modern football, with the Premier League introducing the Hawkeye system in the 2013/14 season. Goal line technology was called for ever since Frank Lampard’s World Cup goal against Germany was ruled to not have gone in despite being a foot over the line. But since its introduction, not a single goal line controversy has occurred.
VAR has caused widespread debate with its efficiency and how it works. Match of the Day pundit and ex-Newcastle striker, Alan Shearer, has publically questioned the integrity of the video assistant referee by questioning how some decisions are opinion based instead of fact. Decisions such as offside and mistaken identity can be based on fact, but penalties and yellow or red card decisions can still be disagreed upon.
A widespread talking point regarding VAR and offside is if a player has been ruled onside and scores, that decision can be overruled if the VAR shows that he was in fact offside. However, imagine the scenario was turned on its head. The linesman could flag a player offside and the game would stop, but replays could show the striker was actually onside but by then it is too late to carry on with that phase of play, therefore potentially robbing the player of a goal.
So far, matches played to test the VAR have been in both the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup. These games haven’t gone as smoothly as hoped with a potential handball by Glenn Murray not even consulted by the VAR in Brighton’s FA Cup victory over Crystal Palace, and Willian being booked for diving against Norwich even though the Canaries player admitted to making contact with the Brazilian after the game. It looks as though VAR may still need a bit of time and deliberation before a decision is made on whether to use it full time in the Premier League.