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Has VAR Done More Harm Than Good In English Football?

The introduction of the Video Assistant Referee Technology (VAR) to football has sparked mixed reactions from football fans and pundits globally due to its performance.

While some believe that the technology has improved the decision-making of referees, others argue that the invention is ruining the game of football. The VAR Technology was tested in a football-friendly game between Italy and the Netherlands back in 2012, then officially used at the FIFA Confederation Cup and World Cup held in Russia in 2017 and 2018 respectively before its full usage in Europe’s elite leagues.

Ironically, with recent events, it could be said that Video Assistant Referee Technology has been a center of controversial decisions, criticism and inconsistency. Thus, escalating the number of inaccurate decisions by match officials which it was introduced to quell.

However, it must be pointed out that these VAR dramas happen more in the English Premier League than in other European top leagues where controversial VAR decisions are rarely reported. This record makes one wonder if VAR Technology is actually at fault or the inconsistency from English referees in discharging their duties.

The recent VAR drama happened in the clash between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool after Ruben Diaz’s goal was wrongly ruled out for offside. The VAR officials Darren England and Dan Cook also failed to correct the decision by drawing the on-screen line and Liverpool went on to lose the game.

Following the incident, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) group admitted the error and revealed that the VAR officials initially thought that the goal had been given by the center referee Simon Hooper.

However, this did not go well with Liverpool and other football analysts who have slammed the Premier League officials for their lack of consistency. Top football pundits also stated that the Referees and VAR officials should do more to avoid costly errors in football games since their apologies will not change the results of the game.

Ruben Diaz’s wrongly disallowed goal against Spurs which proved costly to Liverpool could be regarded as one of numerous incidents which PGMOL has apologized for.

Here are some other controversial VAR decisions which PGMOL tendered apologies for ;

Man Utd 1-0 Wolves, August 14, 2023: Andre Onana recklessly clattered into Sasa Kalajdzic inside the Manchester United box but VAR failed to award a penalty.

Tottenham 2-1 Brighton, April 8, 2023: Stuart Attwell refused to award a penalty to Brighton for Hojberg’s foul on Mitoma in the area. The decision was supported by VAR Michael Salisbury.

Everton 0-1 Man City, February 26 2023: Referee Paul Tierney and VAR Chris Kavanagh missed a handball from Manchester City midfielder Rodri, failing to award Everton a penalty and City went on to claim three points.

Arsenal 1-1 Brentford, February 11, 2023: Ivan Toney’s offside equaliser was allowed to stand after an error from VAR to spot Christian Norgaard in an offside position.

Aston Villa 3-1 Man Utd, November 6, 2022: Lucas Digne scored a direct free kick but after a post-match review, it was judged that the Man United wall was pushed too far back, giving Digne room enough to score the Free kick.

Evidently, English football before the advent of the Video Assistant Referee has been plagued with numerous controversial officiating. However, various analyses have shown that the adoption and application of the technology has worsened rather than remedied the situation.



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