Blog Details

Home   /   How VAR has exposed the hypocrisy in the rules of football

Since VAR’s introduction in the Premier League in the 2019/2020 season, there has been a permanent debate amongst pundits and fans alike. A casing point being Phil Foden’s disallowed goal in Manchester City’s 1-0 loss to Liverpool. Due to a tug on Fabinho not being sufficient enough to be given in real time, but after a lengthy VAR review the on-pitch referee overturned his decision. Once more sparking up the continuous debate of VAR, generally sounding along the lines of “VAR is ruining football”. But is it really destroying the game? Or is the use or perhaps misuse of the technology in fact highlighting the complete fallacies and up-for-interpretation laws within the game? It seems very clear that it is the latter, in fact so clear that it seems the referees themselves know this to be true.

Video assistant refereeing should be there as safety net for officials, not as means of scapegoating and taking all accountability away from their own discrepancies. This now, seems to be exactly how officials have decided to use this technology, as a first line of defence if you like.

Linesmen are a casing point of this. They serve little to no purpose in games the games are currently being officiated. They must wait for conformation from the VAR official, (I will refrain to speak of VAR as if it is some sort of physical entity) for virtually any offside decision no matter how glaring just on the off chance that they might be wrong. Which in my mind will probably have to take a high-profile player suffering a career altering injury as a result of the linesman “waiting for the phase of play to finish”, for the refereeing association to deem this lethargic style of ruling a football game as unnecessary.  

Even the manner which referees talk about VAR must be altered. It is very convenient that they don’t (or very rarely) mention the VAR official by name. This unwarranted almost-anonymity given to VAR officials is not and should not warranted. It should be crystal clear who the Video Assistant Referee is, and they should be addressed by name not as “VAR deemed the challenge not to be enough contact to warrant a penalty” it should be “Mike Dean deemed the challenge”.

So, the question beckons why is the accountability of VAR officials being protected by their colleges? Is this due to them understanding that they actually have as an impossible a task as the referee does? Almost certainly. That even with aid slow motion and viewing a reply six times from six different angles it is still almost impossible to decide whether there has been a refereeing error.

You may have two referees watch the exact same replay and decide upon two different outcomes. Why is this the case? This doesn’t occur in cricket or in rugby. So why just in football? Well, this is solely due to the laws of football being riddled with grey areas. There are essentially no black and white rulings, other than when the ball crosses over a line or Harald Schumacher moment of wildly flying into the face and chest of Patrick Battiston (in which of course, famously Schumacher was not red carded for the career ending act).

This may be the reason why offside rulings, handball laws etc. change so frequently in the game. Of course, you can always try to improve the rules within a sport, for safety purposes i.e outlawing jumping two footed challenges, changes like those, without a doubt enhance a quality of the product. But handball laws which are now in place and solely predicated on the individual being struck on the arm (below the sleeve) in what is deemed to be an “unnatural position” are completely illogical. The specific wording of this rule, that is quoted so frequently as the distinction from what is accidental and not, makes little to no sense. To define a position as “unnatural” is an impossible task. Humans are a product of nature so therefore by definition any position that they have their arm in, is therefore natural.

 It is fallacies like these make it impossible to govern consistently. There is simply too much room for interpretation. That is the major drawback. Without a doubt there are wild improvements that can occur to the standard of officiating, within all of football not just the Premier League.  But there will always be a ceiling on the quality of officiating until the fundamental rules are completely revamped.

Leave a Reply

Follow Overtime on Twitter

TikTok Feed


July 2024