Last month, FIFA formally approved the use of the video assistant referee, commonly referred to as VAR, in the World Cup held in Russia this summer. The device had been trialled in multiple domestic cup games in England, and also in Germany and Italy. It has caused quite a stir in the international football community, with many people calling for its dissolution due to its impediment on the exciting game of football. It was first introduced at the Club World Cup in December 2016, followed by its presence at the 2017 Confederations Cup.
“We wanted to give the referees tools so they can make better decisions, and in the World Cup some very important decisions are made,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino. He added: “It’s not possible that in 2018 everyone in their living room knows a few seconds after the play whether a referee has made a mistake and the referee doesn’t.” Well, Mr. Infantino, you failed to realize that you’ve taken the excitement out of football as well, ceding the flow of the beautiful game and the drama that energizes fans all throughout the globe.
A prime example of VAR’s faults would be during the fifth round replay of England’s F.A Cup between Tottenham Hotspur and Rochdale AFC, in which the Spurs dominated the lower-tier team with a score of 6-1. However, the thrashing over Rochdale wasn’t the highlight of the match, it was the disastrous use of the VAR system. A goal was disallowed and a penalty kick decision was also overturned as well. In addition to that, winger Son Heung-Min was given a yellow card for diving and striker Fernando Llorente also received a warning from the referee after it was shown on video that he had fouled a defender during the build-up to Erik Lamela’s disallowed goal. To make matters worse, all of this took place before halftime, causing fans to begin booing the fact that six minutes were added for stoppage time due to the delays caused by the VAR.
Llorente and Son celebrating one of the three goals made by the spaniard, just before the VAR chaos occurred.
“The first half was a little bit embarrassing for everyone, I am not sure that system is going to help,” said Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. “I think football is about emotion. If we are going to kill emotion, it’s not so happy what we have seen. My opinion is we have the best referees in Europe. The referee is the boss on the pitch and has the last word always.” Pochettino summed it up perfectly, and he certainly has a solid argument for the disapproval of using VAR in football matches. Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter also spoke of the system, condemning its introduction to the World Cup.
The 82-year-old expressed his discomfort with the video assistant referee, citing it as an innovation which is going too fast, due to his belief in the purity of football. “Most of the referees have never worked this system. To go to the World Cup and introduce this system in the World Cup, I think it is not very clever,” highlighted Blatter. “I don’t feel comfortable, definitely not, and spectators don’t feel comfortable.” The International Football Association Board (IFAB) “unanimously approved” its introduction on a consistent basis last month as well, meaning that if leagues and cups want to use VAR in their matches, they can apply through IFAB to implement its system.
Various leagues and competitions around Europe revealed at first that VAR wasn’t going to be used any time soon. Nowadays, just a few months later, their decision has changed despite of the fans disapproval. Ligue 1 in France and Bundesliga in Germany have already implemented the controversial technology, while UEFA Champions League stated that they will not use VAR. In addition, the Premier League in England do not expect to be using the system next season either.
Gianluigi Buffon saving a penalty against Cagliari which, even with the implementation of the VAR system, was poorly determined.
Isn’t it clear that this system should not be used in the World Cup because of its uncertainty in the football world? Why take a tremendous risk on an inexperienced system that has already been causing problems in football matches, and introduce it to the biggest stage in football, the World Cup? It’s chaos that’s just waiting to happen.
Infantino himself even came out admitting that there will still be makes when using the system as well. “Will there still be mistakes? Absolutely. Unavoidable ones. A key component of football refereeing is subjective, and for that we will always have to count on human judgement, which is fallible by nature — even more so when under enormous pressure,” spoke the Italian concerning the controversy over VAR being in the World Cup.
He continued to demonstrate that football’s governing body will be prepared for any controversy to occur during the World Cup concerning its use of the video assistant referee system. “And, yes, we will be ready for controversy. Whenever people care about something as much as they do about football, there will always be discussion,” said Infantino. “Football could either expose itself to a brand new controversy arising from a willingness to improve the game or settle for an existing, inert one. I am happy we chose the former.”
One feature of the VAR we, the Foothunch team are worried about, is the use of it for offside situations. In some cases, the call is not necessary when the player is only offsides by a millimeter, because it would not make a difference whether or not he was onside or offside; the millimeter difference never prevents the player from still scoring the goal.
This is a surefire sign that the VAR will cause countless problems during the World Cup in Russia this June. Millions and millions of fans around the world will flock to Russia excited beyond belief to support their country at the football world’s paramount stage. They will wait hours and hours outside of the stadium for the matches to begin, dressed in their prideful colors of their nation.
Do you really think they will have the patience to wait 5-10 minutes during a stimulating and thrilling World Cup match just to wait for VAR to decide whether or not a player was diving, or if a player was offsides by a fraction of a millimeter? No way, all it will result in “booes”, and the 2018 World Cup in Russia will go down in history as a technical complete disaster.
Robben dives in the match against Mexico for the 2014 Brazil WC, obtaining a penalty and eliminating Mexico in an unfair way.
This system is taking out the pure nature of football, completely transforming the game down a negative spiral. Every decision made by the referee adds on to the drama of the match, and the feelings we have deep down as we witness the unfair calls and unnecessary offsides will forever energize our sentimental love for the game, because it’s the way it’s always been and the way it always should be.
Every aspect of the game should be kept the same way it’s always been for decades, changing it now in order to succumb to the technological revolution is a dreadful mistake. Football will always be football, no matter what year it is, it will always be the same beautiful sport that joins people together around the world to cheer for their country at the World Cup. This is a warning, using the Video Assistant Referee system in Russia this June will be an inevitable mistake.