The introduction of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) has divided opinions among the footballing world. After many trials, VAR has been fully implemented into the FIFA World Cup this year, creating an array of controversy. Football is like nature. Beautiful yet unpredictable. However, the destruction of nature only creates a plain and bleak image of its surroundings, much like the introduction of VAR. The unpredictable beauty of football is experiencing it’s very own deforestation: VAR – The Destruction Of The Beautiful Game.
Is VAR killing football?
Football is renowned as ‘The Beautiful Game’ and has been for decades. From the magical nature of the early Ballon D’or winners such as Alfredo Di Stefano and Eusabio, to the more recent winners, such as the joyous wizard Lionel Messi and the almost inhumane athlete Cristiano Ronaldo, football has captured the hearts of nations across the globe with its aesthetics. The unpredictable nature is what fans and pundits thrive off; the talking points, the mistakes, the magical moments. However with the introduction of VAR, the aesthetic nature of football has been destroyed – our beautiful game has eroded.
The VAR controversy has been exacerbated in this year’s World Cup. Not only has it slowed down games but, ironically, it has been used incorrectly and inconsistently, defying it’s purpose of eradicating errors in the game. In England’s narrow win against Tunisia, Harry Kane had two clear-cut penalties ruled out by the referee and VAR. This poses the question of how exactly is it being used. However in England’s following game, VAR successfully reviewed a penalty claim and aided the referee. The inconsistency of VAR struck again in Monday night’s group B matches, with referee Enrique Caceres awarding Iran a penalty for a ‘handball’ on Cedric Soares. Despite Soares evidently not deliberately handling the ball, the referee awarded the penalty after consulting with VAR.
Shearer speaks out
Alan Shearer responded to the incident during his post-match analysis and added his thoughts on VAR:
“That was my fear coming into this tournament, that you’re going to get decisions like this. It turns the game into an absolute farce.”
This is not the first time that Shearer has spoken out about the use of VAR.
James Milner shared a similar view, describing the system as a “shambles.”
Similar outrage was seen in the other group B match between Spain and Morocco. With Iran looking likely to advance to the last sixteen, the Video Assistant Referees ruled Iago Aspas’ late chance against Morocco as a goal, crushing Iran’s dream of succeeding and undeservedly sending Spain through after their unconvincing performances. These incidents serve as a microcosm for the degrading of the beautiful game and instead reflect the robotic imprint the game has been a victim to.
How has the technology been implemented?
Technology in football has accelerated the modern game in recent years. ‘Goal-line technology’ has successfully been used and fully implemented. So why has VAR created so much controversy?
One of the reasons is the efficiency of it. Some decisions have taken up to two minutes to conclude, ultimately destroying the passion of goal celebrations from fans and furthermore angering fans and pundits for its inefficiency.
Another reason is the irregularity of it. In order for it to be successful, all decisions which require VAR would have to be looked at and successfully reviewed. However the nature of football game inevitably poses far too many instances in which this technology could be used for, making it seem inconsistent and ineffective. Furthermore, the final decision of the system incident is awarded by the referee, suggesting that the outcome of an incident is deemed by their interpretation, exactly how the game was before its introduction
The ultimate hatred towards VAR and its unsuccessful nature is it taking the soul from football. Referee decisions have divided people for years, but they only added to the theatre. Referees are not perfect but only a minimal amount of decisions are incorrect. If every decision was correct, football would lack its beautiful and unpredictable essence making it bleak and plain. With VAR only looking to accelerate, the beautiful game is becoming the robotic one.