Beware of Greeks Europeans bearing gifts

by   |   09/04/2019  95 Comments  [Jump to last]

I turned 80 last January. This more or less coincided with my decision not to renew my Season Ticket. This decision had nothing to do with the club’s current travails. I had begun to notice that the journey was getting more tiring (I live close by Oxford) and that it was not a smart move to be continually taking on the M62, M6, M42 and M40 after a match.

That decision set me to musing about the game I fell in love with and the current offering. Chalk and cheese.

It was a time when European football consisted of watching Wolves v Honved (1954) on a very small black and white TV, and later Manchester United playing in some fancy European competition. What did it matter? A lot as it has turned out.

From those first tentative contacts we are now facing a change in the game that will radically alter it. The introduction of VAR.

Where does one start? Well, let’s start with who wanted it. My experience at games has not been one of fans chuntering on about the need for VAR. My memory of reading papers, periodicals and even ToffeeWeb is not of a fans mass movement for its introduction.

The Trojan Horse that started all this was the introduction of goal line technology. Surely a success? Well, as my old pal Professor Joad used to say “it all depends what you mean by success “. This technology is a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I would not need one hand to count the number of goal / no goal incidents in a season at Goodison, and I cannot remember one.

The “successful” introduction of goal line technology made it very easy for VAR to be introduced. What VAR is being used for now will not be the end of it. This pursuit of “error” will lead to the spread of VAR all over the pitch, and the game will be a shadow of what it was.

By this pursuit of “error “, the warp and weft of the game is being picked apart. The match-going experience is an emotional one. This fan wants to see the ebb and flow of the game. The continuous action. Of course the Referees and players make mistakes, how could they not, they are human. This fan accepts that. Better this than the game being stopped so that a TV viewers opinion can be sought.

Unfortunately, the Beautiful game has sold itself out. Sad.

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Reader Comments (95)

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John Keating
1 Posted 09/04/2019 at 07:10:16
Brian, spot on.
The beauty of the game is the mistakes!
The arguments and discussions afterwards in the pubs and at home are part and parcel.

No doubt people with our opinions will be called Luddites but like you I believe VAR is just a step too far.

Ralph Basnett
2 Posted 09/04/2019 at 07:20:36
Hi Brian, sorry you are having to give up your season ticket, as an ex soldier travelling up from Bicester as a young man myself I know how tiring that journey is (especially if losing).

I am of a similar thinking as you when it comes to VAR. Granted it may give us the perfect result but in the pub afterwards what do we talk about, no dodgy decisions etc.

In five years time we will not remember the harsh decisions, the offside goal that wasn't,the handball not given, the shirt pull not seen - we will go to the game, watch it, VAR will decide for the referee and we will go home and in sheep fashion come back next week all be it to see the correct result but with nothing to talk about.

There are things that need changing in the game such as offside is offside whether you are in first, second or third phase of play.

A foul throw is a foul throw - basics that a professional should be able to achieve.

There is nothing offensive about a player taking his top off to celebrate a goal.

VAR is failing before it is introduced as VAR stated that the shoites equalising goal at Southampton would have stood even if VAR was used as the offside decision would not have been looked at as the defence had time to clear the ball? But he was offside! So we are already giving VAR a window to help the top four.

As the old saying goes - why change something that is not broken!

Good look in whatever you choose to fill your Saturday afternoons with, DAB radio merseyside is always good coverage and hopefully you will get up to the pool for the odd gave especially in the new stadium!!!!!!!

Ray Roche
3 Posted 09/04/2019 at 08:25:41
Brian, a shame that you no longer feel able to continue your trips to Goodison, especially when we appear to be on the verge of, if not greatness, then at least a much improved team.

''In five years time we will not remember the harsh decisions, ''

WHAT?? Are you mad? Hardly a week goes by without a mention of Clive Thomas, the Clattenberg Derby, the Hansen hand ball in the Milk Cup Final, Heysel etc. It's what ToffeeWebbers LIVE for, the chance to induce the purple faced rage that such travesties of justice bring about. The sense of effrontery, indignation that the RS have got away with it yet AGAIN!!

Not remember the harsh decisions? Think again my friend.

Kevin Prytherch
4 Posted 09/04/2019 at 08:53:13
VAR has potential, only if it is used correctly.

We should look no further than rugby league or cricket, where the decision is taken on the pitch, it is only overturned if there is enough evidence to do so and the replays are on a big screen with sound so there is complete transparency.

In its current format, it is weak and mistrusted.

Phil Greenough
5 Posted 09/04/2019 at 09:06:56
As someone has mentioned on ToffeeWeb, the standard of refereeing decisions has been atrocious this season. Referees don't become poor overnight, they have been told to make them so that VAR can be the saviour of English football.

I see VAR as the Trojan horse for Sky to insert adverts into the game. Instead of adverts at half-time, they will show them whilst the VAR decisions are being judged. The game will probably take another 10-15 minutes to complete.

I'm surprised Brian has stuck with travelling to Goodison this long, his journey is truly awful. Kudos to you Brian, enjoy your retirement from attending The Old Lady, although I bet you still get up for the occasional game.

Peter Warren
6 Posted 09/04/2019 at 09:07:06
Goal line technology is fantastic.

VAR currently not very good. I agree it should not be used constantly. I would have an appeal process, one appeal each half for each team (not rolled over) if you win your appeal then you keep it. Appeal has to be made instantaneously to fourth official.

To me that would advance game as it has in cricket and tennis.

Dave Ganley
7 Posted 09/04/2019 at 09:08:50
Yes Brian it's a shame that you have made the sad yet understandable decision not to renew your season ticket.

As far as VAR is concerned, well I'm of the opinion that managers and players have brought this on themselves. After every game we see managers complaining about how the referee robbed them of a result (never mind that the team has just been thoroughly outplayed) completely the referees fault. When asked I dare say that managers don't want VAR, if it comes in then they will be more accountable if they can't blame referees. Players also deserve a share of the blame by continually cheating. Diving and feigning injury leaves the refs in an impossible situation. I'm amazed they get as much right as they do. We all love to hate the refs but rarely if ever do I blame them for our defeats, generally we just don't play well enough if we get beat. I don't want VAR, but the managers and players complaint and cheating has brought this in and we must all suffer for it.

David Pearl
8 Posted 09/04/2019 at 09:21:41
Sorry, you've had to give up your season ticket Brian but I'm sure you've witnessed some great games.

In this day and age I think we need VAR. We might've won a League Cup a couple years ago if Sterling crossing after running the ball out was seen. Too much at stake given that one point could mean another few million in prize money from our final league position. Just think of all the penalties the RS won't be getting next year. That's at least 12 points worse off they will be!

Gary Russell
9 Posted 09/04/2019 at 09:30:15
My take is the spineless, money-grabbing powers that be mean it's now needed. The need for it to stop the cheating/diving/theatrics of so called sportsmen leaves little room for anything else in my opinion. The FA, UEFA & FIFA have fooked the game by letting the above mentioned get way out of control. Some of the biggest talking points from the last world cup were the numerous histrionics of Neymar, one of the biggest names in the world. The chance to nip it at the bud passed years ago, evident from the £1000 fine Rivaldo received at the 2002 WC for his embarrassing dive against Turkey. Watching it again still leaves me seething with disgust. Rugby has its house in order, but I doubt footy will ever come close to following their example of how to govern.

This Guardian report with quotes from him, reveals his mindset. Here we are over 16 years later and that 'mindset' is rampant.

Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 09/04/2019 at 09:33:21
First of all Brian I think that you travelling up from Oxford to see the Blues for every home is absolutely brilliant, especially through year after year of plenty of dross, well done Brian enjoy your well earned retirement from the Blues.

As for VAR it will not reduce the arguments it will almost certainly increase them going by what it has shown upto now, I like yourself Brian was in love with football and the players when I first started watching football, a long time ago, I’ve fell out of love with the game bit by bit over the years and it is a completely different game
now, where winning is everything no matter how it is achieved, much the same as life to too many people.

Good luck and good health to you Brian.

Brian Harrison
11 Posted 09/04/2019 at 09:45:00

I can well understand your decision, thats a fair old drive to and from Oxford at 80. Maybe you might be able to see if there is an Everton supporters club that might run a coach from Oxford. Might at least let you get to a couple of games a season.

As for goal line technology and VAR most other sports have welcomed this type of change and it certainly helps the officials in the other sports. Only last week when you look at Chelsea's equaliser against Cardiff which was yards offside. With VAR this would have been overturned and maybe Cardiff might have won the game. Seeing that one team is fighting relegation and the other trying for a Champions league place these decisions are vital. Refs are so incompetent these days they need all the help they can get. I think they need to let the crowd know right away what they are checking, and be open like rugby show it on the big screen.

No system is perfect but if it stops howlers then I am all for it, funny how these dodgy decisions always seem to favour the big clubs. I don't often agree with Neil Warnock but when he said its the big boys who wont want this as it will stop all the decisions going there way, I have to agree.

John McFarlane Snr
12 Posted 09/04/2019 at 09:58:26
Hi Brian, you and I are of the same age group, and share the same concerns, VAR is a success because it's instant, at the risk of upsetting our American friends, I believe the game is becoming too 'Americanised'. I fear that sometime in the future, a player will be brought on to take a penalty, his sole involvement in proceedings...
Paul Hughes
13 Posted 09/04/2019 at 10:39:40
The thing is though, back in the day, no games were broadcast live apart from the FA Cup Final and European Cup Final.

So even if outrageous mistakes were made, you couldn't be sure at the time, whereas now, the watching millions, and almost immediately, those with smartphones at the match, know what really happened. If everyone knows that, say, a goal was offside, there should be the technology and process to correct the mistake.

You can't put the genie back in the bottle, but I agree that the terms of reference around the use of VAR and the inferred decisions from its use need further refinement.

Eddie Dunn
14 Posted 09/04/2019 at 12:27:07
Brian- credit to you for your long service. As for VAR the main problem is that of interpretation. I have seen it used and disagreed with it's decisions. Why? Because it is still down to a bunch of humans watching a replay. At normal speed, collisions look unintended but slowed down one of the players can look guilty of dangerous play. Just like in Rugby Union when the TMO gives a verdict that the rest of us have also seen on a big screen and disagreed heartily with the TMO man. Human error will ensure plenty of debate in the pubs for some time yet.
Jamie Crowley
15 Posted 09/04/2019 at 12:41:20
Brian -

I couldn't disagree more about VAR. It's sorely needed and will improve the game immensely by ensuring calls will be made correctly.

There will be growing pains to be sure. But in the end the game is too fast, too convoluted at points, and too changing to not have it. Missed calls are occurring more and more, and the refs need some help.

The idea that it will disrupt the flow of the game will be addressed. VAR needs to be implemented up in the box as it were, and wirelessly sent down to the referee. The last World Cup did a pretty damn good job in the main with VAR, as does our own MLS over here. England will get it right in the end. It may take a season or two, but they'll get there. And in regards to disrupting flow, start booking time wasting. Start booking fake injuries. Start playing through 100% fake injuries. Soccer purists love to say VAR will ruin the flow of the game, and I find it hilarious this is stated as a reason to not get calls correct, but there's 1000 things that absolutely destroy the flow of the game currently that no one does a single thing about.


It's coming and you can't stop it. It's the future. Might as well embrace it.

John McFarlane Snr
16 Posted 09/04/2019 at 12:42:09
Hi all, my post [12] was meant to read 'goal line technology is a success because it's instant' I am firmly in the anti VAR brigade.
Stewart Oakes
17 Posted 09/04/2019 at 12:48:13
My problem with VAR is with who makes the final decision. After the game at Crystal Palace which lead to Niasse's two game ban for diving, the referee Anthony Taylor after watching it again was adamant he got the decision correct and it was a foul and therefore a penalty, whereas others watching a replay said it was a dive. It has to be the referee who looks at the incident again and makes the final decision. Goal line technology is great because it's a simply yes or no question, VAR is about interpretation, which means it's flawed.
Gerard McKean
18 Posted 09/04/2019 at 14:18:44
Good article, Brian, thank you.

As far as I can tell only one reply comes out wholly in favour of VAR, but as that person also advocates “playing through 100% fake injuries,” it’s not difficult to see why he’s in the minority. Just a couple of days ago Gerard Delefeou came off the bench in the 66th minute of a semi final, played like a world beater and scored two goals before going off injured before the match ended. The point being that the referee “played through” this injury because Delefeou has form as a boy who cries wolf, but with the way he was playing Watford would never have taken him off were he not genuinely unable to continue. The answer to feigned injuries is to prevent treated players from returning to the pitch for a defined period of 3,4 or 5 minutes, and if a ball is kicked out of play because a player says he’s injured then it should be mandatory that he leaves the pitch and consequently miss the next 5 minutes.

As for VAR, I fear that its implementation is inevitable not because it is, or ever will be, perfect, but rather for commercial reasons. It’s a game of opinions and post match discussions are often more enjoyable than the match itself, something VAR would dilute. It’s also a game of human error; managers, players and officials make mistakes but only one in that little group do not have to account for themselves.

There would be less clamour for VAR if the standard of officiating was both higher and more honest. Why can’t referees be interviewed and asked why they had given/not given that foul etc?
We all still would like to know why Thomas disallowed that goal; interviewed after the match Thomas would have had to say definitively it was offside/ it was handball/ I wanted the RS to win/I like playing God - delete as appropriate.

Of course you can’t hang a referee if he comes clean in an interview and says he got something wrong but I think we’d see far fewer dubious decisions if they knew they’d be accountable to the paying public later. Premiership officials are very well remunerated these days of professional referees and it’s time to apply professional accountability.

Jay Wood

19 Posted 09/04/2019 at 14:56:26
At last summer's WC when FIFA launched VAR at their flagship competition, after early initial teething problems with the referees working with a system most had little or no experience of, I thought it worked in the main very well.

Wrong decisions were overturned and the process was - mostly - very slick.

I have no aversion to introducing technology as an aid to match officials' decision making, IF it doesn't detract from the spectacle. Goal line technology, for example, has been wonderful for the game. And the way it is linked up, it doesn't disrupt the natural flow of the game.

VAR is being introduced here in Brazil for the first time this year. And it is not going well. When the infield referee is advised to review a play, they are prevaricating for as much as 5-7 minutes. They watch the replay so many times that I feel they end up confusing themselves and there have already been some very, VERY questionable calls.

In this example, it could be argued VAR is a failure: the game is put on a lengthy hold (NOT good for the athletes in the field, nor the good humour of the live stadium audience) and wrong decisions are STILL being made, which angers everybody.

I think VAR most definitely has a place in football to ensure shocking decisions with extremely dire consequences (such as Cardiff's game v Chelsea and the validity of Chelsea's late goals) are overturned.

Hopefully, with practice, on and off-field officials will get better at reviewing calls (as seemed the case in Russia) and decisions will be taken quicker, whilst the law-makers refine what should be open to review to further reduce the types of play referred.

What I hope doesn't happen is a further erosion in the in-play competence of match officials who - like cricket umpires who don't check for no balls every time and will only run a video check on the validity of a delivery on review at the fall of a wicket - 'let things go' confident in the belief that they have VAR to fall back on if they cock something up.

First and foremost, the standard of referring in the English game needs to radically improve, because it's now as poor as I can ever remember it.

Rob Halligan
20 Posted 09/04/2019 at 17:58:40
I said on Saturday while watching the man city v Brighton semi final, particularly following the incident with Kyle Walker when he could have been sent off (after a head butt), don't let anyone kid you that VAR will make everything fair and square.

Goals that are scored when a player is offside, will obviously be chalked off because offside is a matter of fact, it cannot be disputed.

However, imagine a shout for a debatable penalty for the RS in the last few minutes, which is referred to VAR, and the panel decide to award it, or a shout for a debatable penalty for the opposition against the RS, again referred to VAR, which is not awarded. These are the opinions of a panel, not a matter of fact but still cannot be disputed.

Unless it's a stonewall penalty for the opposition against the so called top six teams, it will be interesting to see how many penalty incidents are awarded for and against the so called big teams following a VAR review next season?

Dave Ganley
21 Posted 09/04/2019 at 18:29:54
There's a few interesting comments about fake injuries, I completely agree that this issue needs sorting. The folks around me at the game have spoke about this lots and we don't see why you can't do what both codes in rugby do, if a player is injured then let the physio come on the pitch to tend without stopping play. This would only benefit the injured player and would cut out the ridiculous feigning injuries, done only to stop play. If the injury is serious then the player gets treatment straight away and if it's not then the game can continue without him. Would stop all this rolling around trying to stop the game when the opposition are attacking
Paul Birmingham
22 Posted 09/04/2019 at 19:12:34
I see the value of a technology that could be fairly deployed for every game and offer parity for every game.

My biggest concern is that” VAR,” or “No VAR”, the overall performance of EPL match officials is eroding season on season. My first big cup match away was the 77 semi final, at Maine a Road, and from that day, my mind is loaded with crap descisions, mainly against us and a few, not many that went for us.

I’d like genuinely to see a game where the officials impose their authority, hold the players respect and manage the game. But use the technology as the zero option. Surely if the referrees and officials are fit it should be a simple thing to manage a football match?

It brings in the issue of the goal line refs in Europe. In fairness they miss more big descisions, as they aren’t synched in with the other referee and linesmen

In my view it could lead to even more piss poor descisions, that cost jobs and money for some players and supporters, in the long run.

It’s a simple game but if officials cant send off the Arsenal defenders for doing Digne, with pure intention and also DCL, he was so late the ball had been played by DCL, then what hope is there?

It will lead to more questions than answers.

In my view the referees should be made to retake their badges ( if they already do, I stand corrected)like coaches do at amateur level every 3 years, or like taking your IEE regs or Corgi Regs every 3 years.

I’d fine them just like players and managers for every proven bad descision.

I doubt it will happen.

John McFarlane Snr
23 Posted 09/04/2019 at 19:23:23
Hi Brian, I believe that it was only a geographical problem that influenced your decision, I sincerely hope you are able to overcome this obstacle, and that you can reclaim your place at Goodison.

Hi Dave [10] it would appear that you and I sing from the same hymn sheet, I no longer greet a victory with the same elation, nor a defeat with the same sense of despair. Regarding Var, I believe that match officials will become surplus to requirements, and that games will be controlled, [ as they are now to a degree] from a bunker hundreds of miles away from the action.

As I stated in my amended post [16] I can accept goal line technology because the decision is instant, but I'm firmly against VAR which is transferring the outcome of one human to another, not guaranteed to come up with the correct decision, because of human frailty,

I may have a biased view in this matter, but I don't believe that it's aimed at the match going supporter, I think that the TV companies play a major role in things [advertising revenue] and I wouldn't be in the least surprised to learn that the football authorities, are hiding behind the façade of fairness, to fill the coffers.

I also believe the majority of match going supporters have accepted goal line technology, but for me, the only ones who would benefit from VAR are those who, while an incident is reviewed, can nip into the kitchen to put the kettle on, or dash to the bar to order another pint.

Rob Halligan
24 Posted 09/04/2019 at 20:17:42
Well what about that then? City awarded a very debatable penalty after a VAR review. Highly unlikely it would have been given without VAR. City did not appeal or anything. Was a very harsh decision, but it's what we will see given to the so called big teams getting next season.

The penalty was saved by the way.

John Keating
25 Posted 09/04/2019 at 20:20:45
really how could at be given as a penalty?
I realise this is what the powers that be have decided but it is absolutely ridiculous.
Rob Halligan
26 Posted 09/04/2019 at 20:24:25
Exactly John. Players are somehow going to have to throw themselves in front of a shot with their hands behind their back, or risk giving a penalty away. Basically the new rule says you cannot make yourself as big as possible when blocking a shot.
John Keating
27 Posted 09/04/2019 at 20:32:48
Now Trent Alexander gets away with one that is as daft as Danny Rose.
VAR is absolute nonsense
Mike Gaynes
28 Posted 09/04/2019 at 20:46:25
Interesting that my fellow Yank is the other passionate advocate of VAR. Maybe John Sr. is right about Americanization.

Guys, VAR (or what they call video review over here) is a good thing. Anything that makes officiating better and more accurate, and therefore helps deliver the just outcome of a game, is a good thing. I've seen it adopted in all the major American leagues -- first the NFL, then quickly baseball, basketball, hockey and major collegiate sports. In each case, it followed the same pattern. The original adoption was decried by traditionalists, there was a disastrous introductory period, procedures were tweaked, things got better and better, and now the technology is integral to every team sport here -- and, as mentioned previously, to cricket and rugby as well.

My friend Rob #20 is absolutely right that VAR will never "make everything fair and square" because the system will never be perfect. There will always be flaws. But it will make things fairer and squarer. It will help good officials get things right, and it will drive bad and corrupt officials out of the game. A major NBA scandal involving a referee taking money for shaving points with his whistle could have been caught far earlier, or prevented completely, if video review had been around to identify and overturn some of his weirdest calls.

But the eminent Mr. McFarlane is also correct that this is about money. Not only is footy now a worldwide multi-billion-dollar industry, it supports many of the world's other largest industries, from media and apparel to tourism and gambling. And with such massive amounts of money at stake, "getting it right" is a powerful incentive.

VAR is here, and the issue is done and dusted. And if none of us ever has to think about Pierluigi Collina again, that alone will be worth the trouble.

Mike Gaynes
29 Posted 09/04/2019 at 20:54:18
All that said, however, I agree that the penalty call on Rose was asinine.
Rob Halligan
30 Posted 09/04/2019 at 21:06:39
And what's made it more ridiculous is that Danny Rose got booked for it. How pathetic is that?
John Keating
31 Posted 09/04/2019 at 21:07:02
trouble is VAR is not making things more accurate.

Without VAR we have debateable decisions, with VAR e still have those decisions.

No way was the decision against Rose a penalty. He went down to block the shot, where was his hands and arms supposed to go. Ridiculous decision.

Trent Alexander had a somewhat similar decision in the Porto game. The ball comes down and hits in on the arm. VAR decision, no penalty.

Although in my opinion neither were penalties, if one had to be given it would have been against Trent Alexander - not just because he plays for the RS !

Goal line technology, fair enough there is no doubt or debate but VAR, no, sorry, thin end of the wedge for me.

John Pierce
32 Posted 09/04/2019 at 21:08:40
Mike I was dumbfounded with the call. You know I'm not as keen on VAR as perhaps I should be as an official. So I'm predisposed to shitting on it from the greatest of heights!!

My issues are that it is too interventionist. Both this and the PSG handball call were non issues to the players, not one player wanted a penalty. So why reveiw it? The referee has created temperature where there need be none.

If it was a reveiw system I'd feel much better about it all, it comes down to the players to decide what they want to challenge. Even in US major sports they use a challenge system that is not limitless, yes its tactical but only there for huge and obvious errors. And if you blow them all then thats on you.

I really think next season will be a mess in the English league with VAR

Tony Abrahams
33 Posted 09/04/2019 at 21:26:24
Non issues exactly JP, which just makes these decisions even more bizarre.

Still travelling all that way at 80 years of age Brian, is absolutely brilliant, so,hopefully you can just pick your games, and still get to Goodison for a couple of long weekends each season, and just break the travelling up a bit mate.

Paul Birmingham
34 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:00:54
And yet again the RS, become invisible to the officials.

A terrible descision, and crucial to fair play. Salah should have had a straight red for that tackle. VAR? Weak officials in my view.

It makes a mockery of fair play.

Jamie Crowley
35 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:02:54
Gerard @ 18 -

Your solution regarding injuries is a damn good one, and one I'd not thought about, or at least didn't consider when posting.

If a player does go down injured and there is a mandatory amount of time he then needs to sit out to receive treatment, I'd just about guarantee we would see an end to feigning injuries. And with all due respect to your DelBoy example, it happens all the time! A manager should have the right to then make a substitution immediately to prevent his team from being down a man. But your idea is excellent.

I find it very interesting in that I see the posters advocating VAR are not English. This might be a cultural issue? As Mike Gaynes points out, we have it here in America. Some systems in different sports are better than others. But in the main, we get the call correct, which is something most [all?] want over here.

Age has also been brought up a few times. I wonder if there is a generational divide on VAR? I'm no spring chicken at 49, but many of the posters against VAR are 70s and 80s. Not all, but a few I'm sure of.

Either way I think it's coming. And I do believe if you attempt to stomp out the falling over, and acting like you've been shot in the back, despite only a slight breeze hitting you, and then implement VAR properly, you'd not notice any disruption of the flow of the game. And awful, game-changing calls would be a thing of the past. Surely that's a good thing?

Finally - Sir John Pierce @32:

So I'm predisposed to shitting on it from the greatest of heights!!

The fact elevation being a worse outcome of being shit upon, rather than at close range, crossed your mind had me in stitches. I'll be stealing that phrase and using it often. Gold.

Mike Jones
36 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:04:30
Hopefully this will galvanise Man City for the trip to Palace. If they can’t win I'm going to go away and die in a hole
Joe Corgan
37 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:08:30
VAR need not be a bad thing but in its current guise it’s a disaster waiting to happen. Despite that, I’m sure we’ll be very happy when we benefit from it.

The first question that needed to be asked about VAR is whether we need it at all. Do fans really want every decision to be 100% correct all the time or do we, on some level, enjoy the debate and discussion when a bad decision is made? I’ve never heard the footballing authorities address this question.

VAR has three problems as I see it. The first is simple: it ruins the universality of football. Until the introduction of goal-line technology, the rules were the same regardless of whether you were playing in the Champions League or for a Sunday pub team. It’s something of a shame that that is no longer true.

The second issue is one of subjectivity. Goal line technology works because it’s binary. The ball has either crossed the line or it hasn’t. When you add technology which still leaves decisions open to debate, one wonders whether it is really necessary at all. Pundits and fans alike can watch endless replays and still disagree as to whether something is a foul or a good tackle. Or whether something is a deliberate or accidental handball. Contact alone doesn’t equal a foul, and I believe the laws of the game are so badly written (or enforced) that VAR only adds a level of uncertainty, rather than removing one.

The third and final issue is one of the matchgoer’s experience. VAR replays are not shown within the stadium and fans are not always aware of what is happening. Indeed, in last weekend’s FA cup semi final, a VAR review was called for a possible red card decision yet fans didn’t know which player, or even team, was under review. Why can replays not be shown within the stadium? To prevent crowd incitement? Why does rugby not have the same issue? Their video referee decisions are shown on the screens at the stadium. The answer, of course, is that the referee’s decision is ultimately subjective and we’re back to point number two.

An optimist would say that the introduction of VAR into the Premier League, and it’s use at 19 times per weekend should lead to its continuous tweaking and improvement. Perhaps the laws of the game will be made clearer to make decisions less subjective and perhaps, one day, replays will be shown on the big screens. At the very least, the screens should display graphics indicating what and who is under review. One can hope.

John Pierce
38 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:24:41
Mike/JaC, so my understanding having been here for a few years is Americans like their sport to be ‘black and white’, often football and other non major league sports are said to be ‘grey’, allowing for too much judgement or subjectivity. Is that fair?
Every decision has to be clean and most important actions have a review of sorts, right? I’ve found that even in my time in the US both NFL and basketball have become heavily sanitized and without jeopardy. They lack drama and edge. They feel like turn based strategy games!!

My biggest fear is that the subjectivity in the game which in part gave rise to different continental styles will be driven from the sport and it becomes anodyne.

I’m really think they need a step back before this comes in, but it feels like the genie is completely out of the bottle.

Jamie Crowley
39 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:27:37
Joe @ 37 -

Do they not show replays at the stadiums in England?

That might be the issue with the match-going fan there. In America, the replays are shown - often multiple times - so every fan in the stadium knows what is being reviewed.

It's actually comical, because when a call is missed, about 30 seconds later you can hear the reaction of the home fans to the missed call, especially if it's against them. There's a loud roar-groan followed usually by booing and just a weird, collective pissed off grumbling from 70,000 plus.

Why in the world do they not show replays in the stadium in England?? I find that incredible. It's almost as if they try to hide what actually occurs and seems really shady. I had no idea.

Mike Gaynes
40 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:33:50
John #32, the challenge system is one of the tweaks I mentioned. Good example.

Joe #37, I would argue, after playing for 50 years and reffing for 40 at multiple levels, that the rules have never really been the same for the Prem and Sunday league. Calls are applied differently. Substitutions different. Capabilities of both referees and players vastly different. I just don't see it as a relevant issue to this debate. Games played by world class athletes on pure trimmed grass before 50,000 and TV cameras and games played in mud by fat guys with just a couple of wives and kids on hand are different, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Your last paragraph is the important one. Video review does get better with time and use -- I've watched it happen. And while fans still grumble over time, pace and application, it's been a long time since I met an American sports fan, no matter how traditionalist, who now would want to go back to the old days of no reviews. It's become core to the sports experience here because it has made officiating inarguably more accurate, and the outcomes more credible as a result. And when you've got a hundred on it, that matters.

Tony Abrahams
41 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:34:24
Most American sports are stop start Jamie, so are therefore a little bit different to soccer?

Ref on sky the other day said they are not going to go back on third phase play, so why go back at all?

I’m glad City missed the pen because it was never a pen, (IMO) and I thought the United player was made-up he was getting a corner the other week in Paris, but the ref was obviously on his own page?

If a ref can get on his own page, then the injustice will never leave the game, and this is the biggest worry I’ve got for football, at the minute.

Tony Abrahams
42 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:37:15
Jamie, it might be because there could be a riot, if one of these shady decisions is exposed?
Mike Gaynes
43 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:38:22
John #38, did you watch the NCAA tournaments, mens and womens? No lack of drama and edge at any point, even though replay review was a constant (and even sometimes intrusive) presence.

But you're absolutely right that the genie is out of the bottle, and has been for some time. It just took him a bit of time to wave his wand over the Prem. There's no going back now.

Mike Gaynes
44 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:40:35
Tony, American fans only riot for joy after championships. Can't remember the last time there was a "rage riot" in a US sporting event.
Jamie Crowley
45 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:41:03
John -

I think Americans realize there's some "gray", but we don't like it in the main. We agree, even with video replays and reviews, that some calls are just SO close you can't even come to a definitive conclusion with slow-motion! That's one of the reasons the NFL says that video review has to have "incontrovertible evidence" to overrule the decision on the field.

I'd think that would be an excellent rule / metric for VAR personally when deciding decisions and the "intrusion" of VAR on the game.

One thing is for sure in soccer, and it seems to be a big, big point with the English - the VAR calls need to be done quickly. I agree 100% with that. If there is a review, it needs to happen at lighting speed and implemented as fast as possible. If you start to disrupt the flow of soccer, it will be miserable. Which is why I'd like to see some of the shenanigans currently in the game made obsolete, so VAR has no "net effect" on the flow of the current game.

It can be done. And there will, as I said previously, be growing pains. And a lot of fans will hate it in the beginning. But as Mike has said, we here in America have been down that "growing pain road" with just about all our major sports. And video review (VAR) has made most of the games better in the end in my opinion, and I'd wager in most American's opinions. Big country over here, but that's the general attitude I'd argue.

I do understand any European resistance to an "American" intervention and implementation of "our way of doing things". We're kind of a pushy bunch of people. No doubt about it. But I think we have it right here. I want the games to be called properly, and I hate seeing teams screwed out of three points because an AR missed an offside, or a stonewall penalty wasn't given, or worse a penalty given on a dive or one that absolutely wasn't a pen! It's a crime that can't be corrected via technology, ergo, VAR has to be introduced to the game in my opinion.

Rob Halligan
46 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:41:39
Regarding what Jamie # 39, says, at the moment any debatable decisions are not allowed to be shown on the big screens during the game in this country. Then again, not all premier league teams have a big screen, the RS and Man Utd included.

However, with the introduction of VAR, will every premier league team need to install this screen, as I'm sure I've read that in order to keep the crowd informed of what's happening, it will be shown on the screen?

Tony Abrahams
47 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:51:46
Let’s hope it stays that way Mike, maybe you Americano’s have got more sense!
Jamie Crowley
48 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:52:09
Tony @ 42 -

The tribalism and the passion exuded by, in particular English fans, but fans all over the globe, is one of the things that I absolutely love about soccer, and it's a main reason I became so interested in the game.

In my younger years, I saw a clip of some "big game" in England. Probably some Man U - Livershite tilt. One team scored, and the fans went certifiably crazy. I'd never seen anything like it. From that moment on, I knew someday I'd watch soccer. It was one of the most crazy, beautiful things I'd ever witnessed. You guys live it and see it all the time. But for me, growing up on football (American) where there's so many "points", and baseball which is arguably the most boring game on earth (one I still love, go figure), and hockey where it's most similar to soccer I'd argue but with more goals. . . to see that raw reaction of fans in England playing their football, where goals are so incredibly precious, I got tears in my eyes. It's just a glorious thing to behold when it's not your norm. I still, to this day, rewind our goals on the OS to watch the Gwlady's Street go bat shit crazy. And I do it like, and I'm not exaggerating here, 15 to 20 times just to watch the fans! In short, it's absolutely fucking awesome.

So yes, in a rather lengthy response to your point, I could see a freaking riot kicking off! I think I understand now why replays aren't shown. The fans care too damn much. Which is why I love the game.

Rob Halligan
49 Posted 09/04/2019 at 22:53:30
Just watched brief highlights of the RS game. Porto have three penalties turned down by VAR, and god knows why Salah wasn't sent off for an outrageous over the top of the ball challenge, which caught the Porto defender clean on the shin.

How the fuck do those bastards keep getting away with it?

Tony Abrahams
50 Posted 09/04/2019 at 23:00:16
Jamie, I can take anything mate, but I fucking hate injustice, especially when people try and genuinely make a case for it.

VAR, becomes an absolute sham for me, when they start looking at incidents like the Trent Arnold, one before. I fuckin hate Liverpool, but if that was a penalty, I’d be on my way to giving football a total swerve.

Jamie Crowley
51 Posted 09/04/2019 at 23:02:59
Jeez -

@45 last sentence should read:
It's a crime that can be corrected via technology,

Jamie Crowley
52 Posted 09/04/2019 at 23:05:13
Tony -

Haven't seen it Definitely sounds like a botched situation.

VAR won't be Jesus. But it will help overall get the calls right the majority of the time, and most importantly correct more often than what we are seeing today.

Rob Halligan
53 Posted 09/04/2019 at 23:18:14
Jamie, you say VAR will help get the calls right the majority of the time. But will it? We've seen tonight in two different games, VAR used for possible handballs, one given at Spurs, and two not given at the RS. As I said earlier, these type of referrals are the opinion of a panel, or the referee using the pitch side screen. Next season I'm convinced we will see a 50 - 50 split on these handballs being given or not given.
John Pierce
54 Posted 09/04/2019 at 23:19:01
Mike, I do watch a little college hoops, but I was referring to the NBA, which many say are two different animals. You couldn’t pay me to go to a game.

The debate on here is a good one, much better than VAR itself. I really fear the thin end of the wedge and imagine what trouble we’d be on if of FIFA rewrote ‘what is a foul’ in the same way the NFL couldn’t define what a catch was.

Such wording like, ‘two step possession’, ‘full control of the ball’, etc. might redefine what a foul is. Arrgh! That’s the road we are on, one which you’ve travelled, but think is worth the pain. Very much know it has to happen but cannot accept its current iteration.

Jamie Crowley
55 Posted 09/04/2019 at 23:29:24
Rob -

My experience with my American sports is that you'll see 90% of the calls being made correctly. The other 10% either wrong or not enough video evidence to overrule the decision on the field.

English Premier League mileage may vary.

I'm stuck at work, but it sounds as if today was not a glowing endorsement of VAR!

Jamie Crowley
56 Posted 09/04/2019 at 23:31:55
John @ 54 -

Don't convolute the bullshit litigious nature of NFL rule-writing, with VAR.

I don't see English soccer, or any soccer for that matter, going down that road.

Rob Dolby
57 Posted 09/04/2019 at 23:39:11
VAR will kill the game for the match going fan. The joy of a goal will be dampened until 5 guys in a room decide if it is a goal.

No doubt the arm chair supporters will love it, a bit more to debate whilst they are watch the box.

It's the perfect excuse to throw in an advertisement, next will be timeouts or appeals for VAR killing the spectacle.

Currently 1 referee is biased towards the top 4 in any given game. With the introduction of VAR there will be 6 refs biased towards the big guns.

In the FA cup semi if a Brighton player had butted a city player you would expect a red card. Kyle walker does it and gets away with it.

Ajax scored a great goal against real Madrid in their first leg game. VAR gets involved and chalks the goal off for some imaginary infringement.

2 cases tonight of hand balls with 2 different decisions both going towards the supposed bigger team.

Would our goal against Arsenal have stood?

I am firmly against var and really do hope I am wrong and that it improves the experience.

Jamie Crowley
58 Posted 09/04/2019 at 23:48:24
Rob -

When you say your prayers tonight, thank God you aren’t an armchair supporter, consigned to watch on the box.

I’d give an arm and a leg to see Everton live.

And my opinion on VAR is no less valid because I’ve no choice but to watch on the box.

John McFarlane Snr
59 Posted 09/04/2019 at 00:15:09
Hi Jamie [58] although I don't know Rob [57] I don't think that he was being disrespectful, and I'm sure that he would agree, that any point you make would be valid. As a match going supporter, I would make similar statements, but I'm assuming that Rob is also a match going supporter,and like me, he would be referring to people who could go, and choose not to, and not to people who can't go to matches. Perhaps Rob may come on to explain his side of things.
Andy Meighan
60 Posted 10/04/2019 at 01:26:25
VAR or no VAR, the big clubs will always get the decisions, regardless of whoever is in the room, on the panel, or whatever.

Referees, for example, have always been petrified to give a penalty at Anfield or Old Trafford. Just witness how many penalties we've been given at them two grounds since the Premier League began. God knows most of us on here we've had 3 at best since I've been alive at Anfield and I'm nearly 60!!

People need to get real: VAR won't change a thing because the monied teams will always get the big decisions... end of.

You've probably got Sami Hypia, Steve Nicol, and John twatting Arne Rise with Jaap Stam and Njemanda Vidic alongside them giving decisions against us and the likes of Leicester, Watford etc... Laughable.

Derek Thomas
61 Posted 10/04/2019 at 01:58:13
I'm with Brian, I'm against it. It will cause as many if not more problems as it solves. The VAR, noose will be cast either too tight and narrow or too wide. They haven't a shit show of getting it right, they never do.

Too much money involved, simple as. If the players didn't cheat (money) the referees were better, not frightened of upsetting the money, the rule makers had any idea...not in thrall to the money. Sepp Blatter any one? The next World Cup? the last one?

Mike Gaynes
62 Posted 10/04/2019 at 02:58:44
You'll have plenty of ammo when they deploy it, Derek, because they won't get it right.

To start with.

But as time goes on, they will. They have to. No choice. As you say, there's too much money involved.

Jay Harris
63 Posted 10/04/2019 at 05:02:28
Var should be viewed as an extra pair of eyes that can replay the moment over and over.

Anything that may reduce the number of dodgy decisions the RS get is a good thing in my eyes although it was much more fun watching big Dunc swatting little gobshites.

Keith Young
64 Posted 10/04/2019 at 08:08:01
I was a guest last night at Spurs v City game when all that is bad about VAR was literally on view. It was a disgrace that the 62,000 in attendance were kept waiting, as the USA style stoppage lingered on, in shocked silence. “ What was the stoppage about?” asked all near me. Only to see PENALTY REVIEW on the screen. Again questions all around, “ no players were appealing, the Referee had awarded a corner, what’s going on.? .So Brian you’re absolutely spot on in your conclusion... Perhaps VAR only for goal line decisions as in tennis. That should keep the Germans happy after the 1966 question “ was it over the line?”
Eddie Dunn
65 Posted 10/04/2019 at 08:33:13
On the penalty against Danny Rose, -the reason it was gven is clear. The player had his arm away from the body deemed by the Euro rules as unnatural . If the two teams had been playing in the PL, the pen would never have been awarded. On radio 5 this morning an ex-pro stated that every former player he spok to thought it was a travesty, as did Jenas on last night's commentary. However the rules in the CL are clear and these players need to get their heads round this clear rule.
I don't like it and like others above, thought it was ridiculous to book Rose too!
How a guy can hurl himself in front of an opponent and keep his arms by his side is obviously ridiculous, but as the rule is different the impulse to put "your body on the line" may be tempered by the worry to be caught out in this way.
The different rules in different competitions is making an ass of the game.
Rob Dolby
66 Posted 10/04/2019 at 09:16:43
Jamie #58 My comments are made from a match going perspective. I am not in any way shape or form trying to degrade our legions of fans from around the world who can't attend the games.

The Premier League is a global brand with TV rights replacing the need for football fans to attend the games. VAR is another nail in the coffin for the match going fan.

Along with Managing the game or time wasting, Earning free kicks or cheating, Faking injury or trying to get the opponent booked I can add VAR to the list.

Again no offence meant to the fans who can't get to the game.

Stan Schofield
67 Posted 10/04/2019 at 10:13:27
Rob, agree totally. I can't see VAR changing things for the better if there is a systemic bias towards the wealthiest clubs. Such a systemic bias can be called corruption, and the corruption is rooted in the sheer amount of money in the modern game.

Football matches used to be things of escapism from the drudgery of work. These days, there's so much bullshit in football, it's often not escapism at all but a reflection of political bullshit in the world generally that's rooted in greed.

It seems ironic that in the last World Cup where VAR had so much attention, the final result was directly influenced by clear deception, i.e. cheating.

Eddie Dunn
68 Posted 10/04/2019 at 10:59:14
Stan- did you hear Danny Rose's response, not just to the racist chants but to the politics in football. He basically said he'd had a guts full and was looking forward to "turning his back " on the game in five or six years. Shocking that he found so much shit to deal with. Last night he came a cropper due to the new rules in the CL and VAR. Good job Loris saved the spot kick or he may have been even more fed-up.
As others have said, the TV companies pay the money, the sponsors want the biggest audience, they want the top teams in the running for the title, Europe and even the cups(to a lesser degree).
The constant media attention is on the lovable reds, Manchester and London (that city state in the south of England).
The refs must subliminally absorb the improtance of their paymasters that the big clubs are given the benefit of the doubt. The big decisions tend to go the way of those clubs and VAR will only serve to deny potential upsets in favour of the minnows, and reinforce the decisions in favour of the big boys.
Wait and see in the CL or our PL how someone's cuff will be in an offside position thus denying a lesser-club an important goal and then soon after a similar scenario will be viewed as level and a goal will stand.
VAR may well stop injuctices like Sterling crossing the ball from over the line to tee up his mate in the league cup semi a few years ago, but it will not be able to overturn a pen when it is obvious that say Salah has dived, as on a replay, any contact(however slight) will be deemed enough to give the kick.
Such cheating is prospering in the top leagues.
Last night Gundugan flipped on to the ground with the slightest of contact from Wanyama? It got the free kick, he soon got up despite his agony of a few seconds earlier. Basically it is cheating and much more of a threat to the game and it's integrity than whether a ref misses a very marginal offside.
The only solution is to bring in retrospective punishment. Salah, last night should be cited, and given a one match ban. Gundogan, should receive a retrospective yellow, for feigning injury.
More bans should be brought in for yellow cards. A one game ban as soon as you reach three would concentrate the minds.
Rob Halligan
69 Posted 10/04/2019 at 11:44:42
So let me get this straight, the reason the penalty was awarded against Danny Rose ie because of an outstretched arm trying to make himself bigger when attempting to block a shot, only applies to the champions league? Will this be the case also, next season, or will it be across the entire board?
John Keating
70 Posted 10/04/2019 at 13:16:16
Rob as far as I know this ridiculous interpretation is only for the CL.
Next season in the league I understand it's to be an "un-natural" position.
Now if that doesn't lead to gross misinterpretation nothing will !
A rule made by people who have never played the game at any level for the benefit of those who are the golden boys
Pete Edwards
71 Posted 10/04/2019 at 13:38:39
As long as its used correctly and consistently it wont be too much of an issue now there's an issue with what I've said already!

I think though that if it cuts out cheating and blatant misses by officials then great, the game has become so fast now even linesmen(people!) aren't seeing some of the most obvious offsides that are right in front of them this is one area where VAR will be a success I feel.

Football and the World change, Brian, its changed massively in my 40 years so can only imagine how it was before then. I'm not saying its all been for the better but sometimes you just have to go with and embrace it, if it stops you even watching on the TV now you aren't attending Goodison then that's a massive shame but I really hope you continue to watch to share the frustration and elation that is being a Blue!!

Stan Schofield
72 Posted 10/04/2019 at 13:41:00
Eddie@68: Yes, I heard about Danny Rose's comments. Mind you, my reaction to them is, if he's so bothered about the state of the game, perhaps he should give it up now. That would surely make a real statement, compared with giving it up after it's usefully run its financial course for him.
Stan Schofield
73 Posted 10/04/2019 at 13:45:23
Pete@71: That's a good point. For me, increasingly I watch only Everton games. If I'm somewhere where another game is on, I'll watch because it's there, but I don't make any effort anymore. Just can't be arsed because of the corruption.
Mike Gaynes
74 Posted 10/04/2019 at 14:01:52
Eddie #65, absolutely spot on. The ultimate fault for that ridiculous call wasn't down to Rose, the ref or VAR. It was, as John K also pointed out, the CL's direction for determining the call. Every entity can create its own interpretation, and the ref had obviously been instructed to call it that way.

When backpasses to the keeper's hands were first outlawed, the state youth league I was working for instructed the referees to treat a backpass to the keeper as a handball in the box. They weren't joking. Guess who worked the first game after the ruling -- and had the privilege of pointing to the spot with three minutes left. The U-14s looked at me like I was insane. The parents on the sideline had a meltdown. It took me ten minutes to calm things down and restore order. The league promptly rescinded its interpretation, but the result stood and those kids, now middle-aged, undoubtedly still remember the moron who knocked them out of the state playoffs by being the only ref in history to call a pen for handling a backpass.

League officials are stupid. Even the CL.

Paul Tran
75 Posted 10/04/2019 at 14:19:41
Agreed Mike. My worries about VAR were encapsulated last night. A penalty & yellow card for a decision no-one appealed for. Is blocking going to be outlawed along with tackling? It's as if they're looking for a reason to use VAR, rather than make it a useful assist to the match officials.
Andy Meighan
76 Posted 10/04/2019 at 14:48:21
Stan @72,

Absolutely spot on about Rose. Yes, racism is a cancer in the game, no doubt about it. But after reading the article in last Friday's Mirror, my immediate thought was "Well, if it hurts you that much, pack in at the end of the season."

He won't though, will he, because, while he's possibly got another 3 or 4 seasons in the top flight in him, the financial gain far outweighs any sickening chant.

Kieran Kinsella
77 Posted 10/04/2019 at 14:59:41
VAR can eliminate match fixing. I was reading yesterday about the 1985 Serie A season. To tackle match fixing, they decided that year to appoint referees by random drawing the day of the game. Verona won the league, Torino came second. The usual suspects, Juventus, Inter, etc finished well down the league. It was a complete surprise to see the top 2. The next year they decided to go back to the old way of announcing referee appointments well ahead of the games. Juventus won, the usual suspects filled out the top six, Verona and others disappeared into the abyss forever more. That was an unproven match fixing scandal to go along with all the proven ones. You also have the Forest v Anderlecht debacle that took UEFA 20 years to investigate, the Marseille match fixing, and so on and so forth. Done properly, VAR can tackle this, but as ever UEFA have left room for corruption. The VAR refs can only alert the field referee if he misses an "obvious" decision. If it is "obvious" logic says that rather than saying "hey take another look," they should say "it is a penalty" or whatever the case may be. The fact the prideful, incompetent or corrupt referee still has final say is ludicrous. Add to that the ambiguity around handballs, offsides in the rules and for now the VAR system is flawed not due to the technology but due to the corrupt UEFA and FIFA officials who want to always have some room for manouevre when bribes are available to them.
Jamie Crowley
78 Posted 10/04/2019 at 15:08:54
Rob @ 66 thanks for the explanation. Appreciated greatly.

I still haven't seen these two incidences of VAR going to hell, but in regards to two of the issues:

1. the handball sounds as if it were a CL directive on what constitutes a handball and when it's to be called. So if review picks that up, there's no real choice but to call it. It's not an indictment of VAR, but rather the handball interpretation of the CL.

And I might add to #1, when I refereed, one of the factors the ref was supposed to consider when calling a handball, was, "Did the player make himself bigger?" if you do, you're asking for it. Your arms shouldn't be outstretched, or above your head. These players know exactly what they're doing, and when they throw their arms out hoping to stop the ball and then claiming it was in the act of natural movement, they're full of it. Players are weasels. They push it past the line and then claim innocence.


2. The match-going fan I do have to say, having received my millionth learning lesson on TW, has it bad. Keith's experience @64 is a joke. Sitting in silence and not knowing what the fuck is going on is no way to treat a customer. And that's what fans are. They pay their money to watch the game, and help fund the team / league / game. I still think England needs to bring in replays at the games, despite "Tony Abrahams" riots. And I think rioting and whatnot isn't going to occur, and if it does the team in violation should be slapped with a silly 12 point deduction and have to play 3 home games behind closed doors or some such thing.

VAR has a lot of dissenting points, and having seen this before they can be rectified, are often made ten times more evil and dramatic by dissenters, and once those hurdles are jumped you'll come to find it helps the game.

Mike Gaynes
79 Posted 10/04/2019 at 15:54:32
PT #75, that's probably true. Learning how and when to use VAR is one of the common initial glitches.

Kieran #77, I take your point, but the match referee must have the final say. Otherwise it's a match supervised by robotics. I don't believe referees taking bribes is an issue today at the highest levels, and I think VAR will make chicanery even more difficult to get away with.

Kieran Kinsella
80 Posted 10/04/2019 at 16:50:02
Mike 79,

You don’t match fixing is an issue at the top level? Belgian police arrested 19 including referees and officials from Club Bruges a champions league team for match fixing 6 months ago. FIFA banned for life a ref from Niger in January 2019 who was found to have fixed internationals involving Argentina and others. France are investigating PSG V Red Star from this years CL game. Parma in Serie A were deducted points for match fixing last season. Benfica are currently being investigated having been accused in October of bribing referees. Ukraine’s interior minister says top club officials at Dinamo, Shaktor etc make 5 million a year for match fixing and 320 people involved with top clubs are being investigated. So it is still quite prevalent.

John Pierce
81 Posted 10/04/2019 at 17:32:27
Paul, I’ve long advocated a review system. It lets the players decide what is worth appealing for. The emphasis is taken away from being interventionist, which currently is affecting the flow of the game.
This system would allow clear rules around how you appeal, who can appeal and in what time frame you must appeal by.
Whilst some may say it will be used as a fishing expedition, it will, and tactically you need to use a one review wisely. Nothing wrong in that. A review should be used sparingly for the gross error which is intrinsically unfair.
The rub, which I think is important that marginal decisions will be left alone, no one will appeal or care. A case in point the handball last night.
I do feel there’s a need to act especially for handball and red card incidents, on behalf of the VAR, almost manufacturing controversy.
A very good mentor said to me ‘manage only what you need to manage’, ‘don’t intervene unnecessarily’. These are excellent concepts by which to officiate by. I think this approach would make even the current iteration of VAR more palatable.
Personally they have tried for too much too soon. Perhaps if they’d implemented just VAR for offside and learned to be comfortable with just that then additional layers could be added as time moves on.

Alan J Thompson
82 Posted 10/04/2019 at 18:07:33
And who running the VAR will understand the required definition of the rules to make it effective? Anyone remember when the offside rule required 2 men between you and the goal (which in itself was a change from 2 defenders between the forward and the keeper) which became on line with the defender then any part of a player which later became the body of the player past the defender and this was rumoured to be the entire body and now is up to somebody thinking he has interfered with play either by touching the ball or impairing the keeper's vision.

Is the question, can it make things better or just stop it becoming any worse, or are we too late anyway.

John Keating
83 Posted 10/04/2019 at 18:38:35
Just going back to last nights penalties, or not penalties.
It has been mentioned for years now that we are losing the art of defending.
Based on the latest directives, certainly defending in and around the box, defending as we know it now will almost cease. Tackling and certainly blocking will be non existent.
It's great to see players throwing their bodies in to block shots and I am sure players will duck out of this in case they are brought up as Rose was last night.
No doubt there will be more goals and penalties in the game and for some that might be what they want, however, there's always excitement in good defensive work from well organised and committed teams.
A great shame.
John McFarlane Snr
84 Posted 10/04/2019 at 18:45:09
Hi all, you must forgive the ramblings of an 80-year-old follower of football. I have always believed that the RULES of competitions can be amended/introduced by the respective bodies, but the LAWS of the game are now presumably, [ administered by FIFA ], and if this is the case, the various governing bodies should be brought to task, for attempting to rewrite the LAWS of the game to suit their various competitions.
Eddie Dunn
85 Posted 10/04/2019 at 19:52:27
In my experience of working in some of Caucasus countries, I can guarantee that corruption will be rife. As for our own Western outpost, I would also be sceptical of our squeaky-clean notions. The corruption here is far more subtle. If anything, certain other countries have a more open attitude to bakshish.
As for the U.S, I would imagine it would be more likely to be exposed, but maybe our chums across the pond could give us their views.
Joe Corgan
86 Posted 10/04/2019 at 20:24:42
John (84): The laws of the game are administered by IFAB, not FIFA. FIFA are a member of IFAB with half the voting power. Believe it or not, the only other members are the football associations of the UK home nations.
Jamie Crowley
87 Posted 10/04/2019 at 20:44:24
Eddie -

We have our corruption, but it's not usually match-fixing or point shaving. It comes from terrible misappropriation of funds at the top level. If you get a chance, Google Chuck Blazer. You'll shit your pants.

When match-fixing happens, and to my knowledge it's very, very rare, the authorities literally wipe it out and ban for life / throw the book at the offenders.

Regarding corruption, I had the thought, despite my defense of VAR, that instituting VAR would actually encourage corruption. If organized crime is attempting to alter the outcome of a game, they only need to approach whomever is in charge of VAR and pay them off to make a decision for the team they favor winning. Easier as it's probably one person to pay off? And that person could call a pen, not call a pen, etc. against / for the team whom the crime syndicate wants to win.

So, so many of these calls are so close. Harkening back to the NFL rule of "incontrovertible evidence", I've seen quite a few calls made by the booth where my view of the event was the polar opposite of what the VAR / replay official called.

Now that seems on the surface to be a total 180 in my stance. It's not. Those occurrences are very rare, and usually [usually!] the viewing audience and fans end up getting a pretty decent explanation of the thought process behind the call.

But you could be opening the door to corruption possibly a bit more with VAR? The criminal gamblers are diabolically intelligent, so it'll never go away completely.

The sad thing with contemplating corruption with VAR, is you come to the sullen realization that FIFA has their hands in just about everything soccer related. And their track record is one of greed, avarice, and full blown shithousery. Ya, I made that last word up.

John McFarlane Snr
88 Posted 10/04/2019 at 21:03:27
Hi Joe,[86] what is the full title of IFAB?, and do they have flexible laws for various competitions?, for example those held in South American countries, if so it's a farcical situation.
Kieran Kinsella
89 Posted 10/04/2019 at 21:10:35
Eddie Dunn 85,

I think anywhere you find both people and money, you find corruption.

Not necessarily VAR, just V I guess, but the authorities could also make life easier for referees if they actually enforced retroactive actions consistently. For example, for diving, for dangerous play. It seems like they'll make an example of someone here and there but then we have numerous (usually higher profile players) who get away with murder. Likewise, we need clarity on the whole head butt thing. When is a head butt a head butt versus resting your face intimidatingly against your opponents face. To me it would be easiest if you said any deliberate contact between heads is a red card. No need to interpret power of the head movement etc. Just don't do it. Also,

Andy Crooks
90 Posted 10/04/2019 at 21:41:37
I think money is such an influence here. Back in the day of Dixie Dean, shite referees were part of the match day experience. Who, indeed, was the bastard in the black?
Now Neil Warnock laments that a bad decision costs millions. So what? At the end of the season the three worst teams go down. In my view, VAR, changes the game. Perhaps it is the natural development of slow motion replays, pundit overanaysis, the need to blame.
To me, human error is part of the game I love. Instead of the bastard in the black, we will have the bastard in the computer suite. Injustice doesn't happen in football; it happens in real life, not over whether some vastly paid footballer is a yard offside.
Referee's decisions are not fucking"criminal". This is insane.
Si Cooper
91 Posted 10/04/2019 at 22:48:14
I’m for VAR if it reduces the amount of cheating and corrects blatantly poor decisions. Interpretation (not VAR per se) and very fine lines will cause consternation but I expect the kinks will be ironed out over time and what we will ultimately get is a significant reduction in those instances supporters have always found annoying and harp on about incessantly.
Someone has questioned whether our goal against Arsenal would have stood. On what basis would it have been overturned? Instead we had ‘talking heads’ making out there was something wrong with it and getting fans riled up over it needlessly. Surely the technology / expertise exists that would have succinctly cleared up the misinformation?
Les Graham
92 Posted 10/04/2019 at 23:11:27
This technology is a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I would not need one hand to count the number of goal / no goal incidents in a season at Goodison, and I cannot remember one.

I think when Ray Crawford punched the ball into the net for Ipswich vs Everton at Goodison Park back in the day in a move Maradona would've been proud of, merited V.A.R I'd of loved V.A.R. when Handball Hansen got into the act at Wembley And Clive Thomas would be quite rightly strung up by his balls..!

Les Graham
93 Posted 10/04/2019 at 23:18:08 THAT derby game...need I go on..?
Andrew Lawrence
94 Posted 11/04/2019 at 14:19:22
Typical Winstanley wisdom, Brian! As an old blue myself, I fully agree with you. I'm sorry you are giving up your season ticket but whenever you want to go up to Goodison and we can get a couple of tickets, I'll be happy to drive from south Warwickshire.
Jamie Crowley
95 Posted 17/04/2019 at 22:10:28
VAR just got a MASSIVE call correct in the CL.

It was the right call, it was decisive, it was done quickly, and the team that deserved to go through on aggregate in Spurs is doing do.

Man City should not have been going through. Their goal was offside indisputably. Imagine being a Spurs fan and getting absolutely robbed of a CL Semi appearance without VAR?

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