It’s the type of feeling people would pay good money for.
It lasts for about 10 to 15 seconds. And for that short period of time you lose your mind. The euphoria. The craziness. The release. The togetherness where you and the people around you unite to celebrate. It’s why people keep coming back, week after week, game after game to part with their hard-earned finances to feel it.
Football fans love football for a variety of reasons. But nothing provides such raw emotion and enjoyment as celebrating a goal. Yet that passion is being eaten into and there’s only one thing to blame – VAR.
The video assistant referee system arrived in the Premier League at the start of the season and has created a landslide of controversy that it was meant to help remove by enabling officials to make fewer mistakes. However, right now, the only error belongs to a process that is destroying the best part of a sport that is loved around the world.
On the surface of it, there was no need for technology not to work in football. A sport accused, probably rightly, of failing to respect officials and the Laws of the Game. A pastime incorrectly labelled as unable to adapt and change for the greater good. Let’s not forget, the entertainment-stifling back-pass rule was removed with little bother in 1992. Football could, and should, be able to make video technology work.
Goal-line cameras had been a huge success so it was hoped the arrival of VAR to the English game’s top-flight would produce similar successful results to its introduction in tennis, rugby league and cricket.
Unfortunately, football has paid the ultimate penalty for failing to get its house with the latest mod-cons in order. It has created confusion, anger, disillusionment and apathy.
More than just “clear and obvious” errors are being scrutinised in a manner befitting a police forensic team.
A unit based at Stockley Park – outside of the crime scene that is being committed every weekend – is making offside decisions that revolve around the length of a toenail thanks to some hastily-drawn lines that could be reproduced by my two-and-a-half-year-old on an Etch a Sketch.
It was meant to get a lot of calls right but at the moment it’s just getting a lot wrong.
VAR is the fun sponge who turns up to a New Year’s Eve party and kills the vibe by turning the music off before midnight.
The celebrations and fun are over and there’s nothing you can do about it.
We can only hope change arrives at the end of the season as the system improves so the euphoria can return.
Other countries have had considerably less pain introducing VAR so it needn’t be the death of the Premier League.
With some refinement, especially over offside, and clarity around laws that have always been heavily subjective, technology can be used for good. After all, let’s not forget we called for this every time we kicked off over an official’s incorrect decision.
It’s highly unlikely VAR is going to be booted into touch once the teething issues have been tackled. And hopefully once they have, we can start enjoying the simple things in life again – like celebrating a goal.
Views of those in the game
“I didn’t really feel like celebrating my goal because I didn’t know if it would stand. It takes away from the initial enjoyment.”
Norwich City’s Todd Cantwell after scoring against Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day.
“For me, it is not working. Some people are saying it gets the right decision, but we’re the players on the pitch and it doesn’t feel right to me. It is still confusing, I can’t get my head around it. You don’t get answers on the pitch.”
Conor Coady has his say as Wolves react to their own slice of VAR controversy against Liverpool at Anfield.
“VAR is cleaning football, making it more transparent and honest, helping referees to make decisions. You will never see an offside goal scored because with VAR you either are, or you are not, offside.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino is a big supporter of the video assistant referee system.
“Sick of VAR. In its present state it is killing the game. It’s being used to referee the game rather than something in the background to correct the absolute howler. Was always going to take time to settle down but they couldn’t be getting it more wrong than they currently are.”
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker refuses to mince his words on Twitter.
“Rangers believes Scottish referees need additional help if match officials are to get more of the big decisions correct and the club is convinced VAR would provide that extra assistance. At the very least, the SFA/SPFL must now seriously consider its introduction.”
A Rangers club statement on how they feel Scottish football is being left behind.
Now have your say
The clue is in the name.
This is Your Local Paper. So let’s hear YOUR views on the topic that is raging in the sporting world right now.
What do you think of VAR? Is it killing football? Should it be scrapped? Is it the game’s rules that are the problem? We’d love to hear from you.
If you want to get in touch (and possibly get your views published next week) email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact him on Twitter @GavinCaney.