The way that foul challenges are being reviewed in the VAR process at Euro 2020 is something that I’m becoming very concerned by.
Don’t get me wrong, in the main, I’ve been very impressed with VAR generally at the tournament, but taking a look at potential foul challenges in slow-motion, rather than doing so in real time, has to be negatively impacting the outcome.
Let’s be honest… a red card is always going to be the outcome if challenges are to be reviewed in that manner, and I don’t think that’s what the game wants or needs.
Is it even fair?
Whilst I am fully aware of a player’s duty of care requirements when making a challenge, and I understand the law and the need to protect players, we owe it to the game that the system is fair.
By way of example, the referee was asked by the VAR to review a challenge by Sweden’s Marcus Danielson on an opponent in the Sweden vs Ukraine game.
Danielson had appeared to win the ball fairly but was challenged by an opponent who was trying to close him down.
— Goal (@goal) June 29, 2021
— Fair Advantage (@FairAdvantageCA) June 29, 2021
Pictures courtesy of BBC Sport.
Danielson’s raised foot made contact high up his opponent’s leg, with the referee close by with a good view of the incident.
Importantly, it was only after the slow-motion replay – when he was faced with a rather distorted view of the challenge – that the inevitable outcome was a red card.
There is no doubt that using slow-motion replays is unfair.
In the interests of fair play, the criteria must be changed to ensure that incidents which are going to be reviewed, are done at normal speed and rely solely on the expert eye of the referee when taking a second look.
The current reality is that a slowed down version of the incident leaves the referee with no alternative other than to issue a red card.
If I was in the same position as the ref in the Sweden v Ukraine game – in that I was being met with a slow-motion replay of the incident, I would’ve also issued a red card based on what I am viewing.
But that’s clearly not the way forward.