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‘VAR has become an obsession’ – England’s top referee says he won’t be swayed by the technology

It’s not often that referees are allowed to open up to any great extent, so in many ways, it’s a relief to hear from England’s top official, Michael Oliver.

Being the man in black is often a thankless task, but it’s made all the harder because of what is perceived to be a ‘closed shop’ attitude from referees and their bosses at PGMOL.

If they were allowed to explain some of their decisions and the process they go through in making them – in much the same way as refs do at rugby matches – the paying public may well be more in tune with them.

The recent issues with VAR is another case in point, but Oliver still maintains any final decision is his, and his alone.

“I know VAR has become an obsession,” he said to the Daily Mail.

“But I am for it. There is all the clamour about it changing the game. But if you scrapped it tomorrow lunchtime, all you would hear all weekend would be people shouting ‘that would be a pen with VAR.’

“As soon as you moved it away, people would want it back. Ultimately, even with VAR, it’s still my decision. I’m the one who makes the decision on the field.

“And if I get it right first time around, there is no reason for VAR to get involved. Now that I can go and watch on a pitch side monitor, you’ve got a second chance, too. You can change your mind or stick with it.

“As a referee now, you should never be driving away from the ground dreading watching Match of the Day on a Saturday night or dreading Sunday morning stuff on Sky. That can only be a benefit.”

Whether such honesty will curry favour with football fans is another matter entirely, but being a fan of Newcastle United himself, he can see the funny side.

“Every decision against Newcastle is a bad one,” he added.

“That’s the way it works. Look, some of the things supporters say are from a different planet.

“You can take them with a pinch of salt because you know they are so focused on wanting their team to do well and it is never their team’s fault and there is always a reason why they got beat.’

How refreshing to see Oliver’s human side rather than the robotic side that is the nature of the job and which he has to adhere to.

More of the same please.

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