Time For Change In The VAR Room

Michael Bisset
Read Time:3 Minute, 33 Second

Nothing works without total commitment.

Prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It had been announced that England would have no officials at the global showpiece. The first time in the tournament’s 80-year history. Truly embarrassing for the inventors of the game of football.

Liverpool VAR

Why was that the case?

Introducing the Professional Group of Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

The above, is the parent organisation for all English officials.

This group have operated like an organised crime syndicate. Rarely facing consequences for their often criminal on-field decisions.

Subsequently acting as a law unto themselves. 

Although, we are well aware that it is impossible to please every fan base. It would be wonderful if there was some element of consistency. Simultaneously, their decision-making process is erratic and highly frustrating to endure.

VAR: Consistently Inconsistent.

Recently, Michael Oliver came forward stating that if the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was removed from football. People would be clamouring for its immediate reintroduction.

I believe this to be true.

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Moreover, it proves that football fans do not blame the technology. In fact, people are united in our distrust of its operators. We blame the officials who are devoid of criticism.

Furthermore, the use of the VAR has highlighted the shortcomings of Match Officials.

Clear and Obvious

Currently, the officials “hide” behind the statement of “clear and obvious.” Consequently, an action needs to be clear as daylight before they will overrule the on-field decision.

For example, during the most recent Liverpool FC match at home against Burnley – two highly influential decisions took place without the aid of the VAR.

Firstly, there was a scuffle between Fabinho and Ashley Barnes. This incident occurred after the half-time whistle. The latter had already been booked. Barnes faced the possibility of a second yellow. Compromising Burnley for the remainder of the fixture.

In fact, the officials came to the decision that Fabinho was the only guilty party. No action was taken against the Austrian striker.

Secondly, Burnley won a dubious penalty. Barnes, adjudged to have been fouled by Alisson Becker. Becker pleaded his innocence to referee Mike Dean. Supporters from all over the world could hear the glove-man insisting that he had not touched the forward.

Dean ignored this plea. Adamant that a penalty was the correct decision.

Pitch-side monitors are mere decorations.

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In spite of the Liverpool protests, Dean refused to go and inspect the action on the pitch-side monitor. Unfortunately, the “clear and obvious” ruling would have surely gone against Alisson as there was the slightest contact – coaxed by Barnes.

However, Barnes was already on his way down.

A fact regularly overlooked.

Football associations introduced the Video Assistant Referee to eradicate debate. The goal being, remove human error from footballing decisions.

Unfortunately, people are frustrated. The VAR room waste too much time debating millimetres for absurd offside calls as opposed to highlighting the true mistakes of their on-field compatriots.

The Problem.

The PGMOL are responsible for supplying both the on-field referee and the officials operating VAR. The Premier League is the most watched league in the world. These errors bring attention to the incompetence of English officials. Numerous erroneous decisions stand due to one group carrying out a “face-saving” exercise on behalf of the other group.

How many important games can and will be decided by these game-changing mistakes? This is tantamount to giving the keys of the hen-house to the fox himself.

Consequence Free.

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Dermot Gallagher and his untouchable henchmen will continue to influence Premier League games. There is no mechanism in place to police their VAR decisions. Have you ever seen Dermot disagree on a questionable decision when interviewed about the weekend’s games?

No and you never will.

To summarise, no single person is infallible. There needs to be an outsourcing of the VAR team. Thus, avoiding the possibility of the referees protecting their associates under the “clear and obvious” excuse.

The English Premier League is too global a division with too much at stake for poor decisions to rule the roost.

There is a need for VAR – please use the tool correctly.

Read more from Michael Bisset

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