Well we complained constantly about poor refereeing decisions, we vented into our beer after games when dissecting exactly how our team had managed to lose against ‘that lot’, we called into radio phone-ins doing exactly the same and lets be frank; we couldn’t blame the managers’ tactics, couldn’t blame the players for lack of effort or ability and couldn’t bring ourselves to admit that ‘that lot’ may just have been the better team on the day – there must be another reason we lost today, there just has to be!
And it comes to us in an instant, every single week – THE REFEREE!
‘He cost us the game, he hasn’t got a clue, he secretly supports ‘that lot’, he’s the worst referee we’ve ever seen – its his fault!
And so it goes on – every single week at almost every single game we point to a poor refereeing decision as the reason we may have lost, and then the rumble began – quietly at first, even as a whisper until more and more fans, managers, journalists and pundits joined in and it grew into a deafening roar.. ‘we need video technology’ to ensure referee’s don’t continue making ‘howlers’ which cost a team the game! We pointed to Rugby, Cricket and Tennis as shining examples of how technology has almost eradicated the referee/umpire howler and ensured that the correct decisions are made – ‘that’s what we need in football’ we screamed, that will solve the problem!
Football governing bodies around the world, including our own FA and Premier League began trialling various systems at lower level games and tried to work out the best format and match protocol to introduce to the biggest games in the world…. We’re not there yet because the V.A.R. (Video Assistant Referee) systems don’t seem to have solved all of our problems, who knew!
Firstly, Cricket, Tennis and Rugby matches all have natural breaks in action when a VAR review does not hold up play. Football does not contain these natural breaks and this results in referees having to stop play and await information from VAR control (which is in London by the way and not at the actual game itself) to confirm whether his decision was correct – this is causing incredible frustration for fans and players alike who stand around without any idea whatsoever of what is being discussed, what the issue might be or indeed, why the game has even stopped!
FIFA have recently announced that VAR will be in operation during this summers Wold Cup in Russia so look out for the very regular sight of referees at the worlds largest and most prestigious sports tournament standing in the middle of the pitch with their finger to their ear piece trying to ascertain if that goal can stand, or that red card is appropriate – I predict utter confusion because we simply haven’t got the system right yet!!
Interestingly, The Premier League are not introducing VAR yet, perhaps their cautious approach is the right one just now!
VAR – Coming to a game near you!