It’s probably a bit much to say that VAR has ruined football, but it’s undoubtedly had an adverse effect on the Premier League.
For every decision it gets right, we see baffling calls refusing to overturn obvious fouls, minutes being spent trying to decide if someone is offside and it’s almost like refs are now refusing to make decisions because they think the review system will correct anything.
The major problem seems to be that VAR doesn’t want to overturn everything unless it’s completely outrageous, this means the referees relying on the system to pick up any mistakes are actually causing bigger problems with an overly passive approach.
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Then there’s the fan experience. As someone who mainly watches Scottish Football, it was astonishing to experience the atmosphere at a recent Premier League game. The fans always tended to be subdued and more “touristy” anyway, but everyone looks scared to celebrate or react to anything until the VAR check has been done.
It looks like a decision has been made to trade passion and atmosphere for correct decision making – only we aren’t even getting to see that either.
Mark Halsey used to be a Premier League referee, and it’s clear that he’s furious with the way the system has been implemented too. His recent column in The Sun made multiple digs at VAR. Here’s some of his opinions from the column:
“VAR has become a total embarrassment to the Premier League.”
“Everybody wanted VAR brought in to correct decisions which were “clear and obvious” errors — but it has just left us baffled and confused”
“Players and managers must be tearing their hair out. It is making a mockery of the Premier League.”
“This has to be the worst weekend yet, it was an awful set of matches for officials.”
That has to set alarm bells ringing with those who are responsible for referees and the implementation of the system. We saw an obvious foul not given in the build up to Man United’s goal against Liverpool today that wasn’t overturned by VAR.
There was also a total farce and delay during the Spurs vs Watford game with incorrect messages being shown on the screen and mass confusion.
The only example that comes to mind of the system being a success was awarding the Arsenal equaliser at Old Trafford after the linesman gave a comical offside decision.
Something needs to change, but you can only imagine those in power invested a lot into this system and won’t be willing to admit their own mistakes. It means we all have to suffer and something that is ultimately there for enjoyment is being ruined by technology and people who don’t know how to use it.