Saturday, June 24, 2017

Going from bad to VARs in Russia

Frankly, the VAR experiment (Video Assistant Referee) has been a bit of a disaster fior FIFA here at the Confederations Cup in Russia.
I'm writing these thoughts after the Germany-Cameroon game, where the referee didn't help matters by getting the wrong Cameroon player to show a red card to. I was in Saint Petersburg yesterday for the game between Portugal and New Zealand, a one-sided affair which Portugal won easily.

The problems with the VAR, which is supposed to be used at next year's World Cup, are already legion and were shown up here again today.

With 5 minutes to go until half time, a New Zealand defender tussled with Portugal's Andre Silva. Silva fell to the ground and the Kiwi tried to pick him up. As play moved away, Silva took deep offence at this and aimed 3 punches at Michael Boxall, making contact at least twice.
Boxall, coming from a country where they breed them tough, did not make a big deal of it and walked away, but it was a clear and obvious red card for Silva for violent conduct.

It's understandable that American referee Mark Geiger missed the incident, but I looked up, waiting for Geiger to listen to the voice in his ear piece telling him about the incident and that he should show a red card, exactly what the system has been introduced for.
But No, nothing.
I couldn't believe that no-one had seen it and the crime went unounished.

Meanwhile, in  Kazan, apparently, a VAR awarded a penalty to Mexico, over-ruling the referee.  The ref trotted  over to his computer screen on the side  of the pitch and then over-ruled the over-ruler, denying the penalty.
So far in the tournament, we've seen several indications the system has been introduced prematurely. Referees have been unsure when and how to use the VAR, only being told after games had started that they should signal with a television monitor signal that the VAR has been called in. Players have reacted aggressively to the confusion, something referees could do without.

There's no suggestion - until today - that mistakes have been made. Eventually, they are getting it right, but the game is not being made better so far.
FIFA needs to work hard with referees, and frankly I'm not sure all the wrinkles will have been ironed  out by next June.

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