The VAR Controversy That Made Jesus Weep

By Daily Sports on August 20, 2019

Views: 1,792

It was yet another exciting weekend of football action in the English Premier League which entered Week 2 last weekend.

VAR’s introduction into the English league is expected to clean some of the bad patches of football in that country and serve as a help for referees to get their decisions more correctly in matches. For example, the scourge of players diving and play-acting  to win penalties will hopefully become a thing of the past as players realise there’s no need for that since they would be caught on camera immediately.

However, it has not been a controversy-free introduction of VAR in England and the match between hosts Manchester City and Tottenham, two too clubs in England, last week which ended 2-2 witnessed some VAR dispute when Man City’s Gabriel Jesus’s dying minute goal, which was supposed to be the winner, was ruled out with replays showing City’s defender Aymeric Laporte’s hand had slightly touched the ball before it reached Jesus who did brilliantly to smash home the ball in a crowded 18-yard box.

Jesus protested bitterly about his goal being chalked off but it fell on deaf ears.

The handball rule in the Premier League states that “any goal scored or created with the use of the hand or arm will be disallowed this season, even if it is accidental.”

The rules on handball in England had been strictly interpreted by the VAR, no matter how harsh on City it looked.

This has however not stopped the decision from sparking a heated debate about the handball rules in England and the overall consistent application of VAR. Why would such slight touch of the ball on the arm of the attacking team, which only VAR could have seen, and one which did not give the player of the attacking team any clear added advantage be punished while if the ball had similarly hit the arm of a player of the defending team, it would not have been.

The new handball rule is ridiculous,” said former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy on Match of the Day. “That should never, on any playing field anywhere in the world, be disallowed. It wouldn’t even be seen if we didn’t have VAR.”

While that debate about the handball rules itself is relevant, the consistent application of VAR in some crucial instances has been lacking, and this was the case in the City vs Tottenham game on Sunday.

There were two moments in that game where a strict application of VAR could have affected the result. Two different moments when Spurs players clearly held City players in their (Spurs) 18-yard box in dead ball incidents. If VAR could give a cold-blooded interpretation to the handball rules go disallow City’s goal, why not apply such cold-bloodedness consistently”

As Football Writer Jonathan Wilson puts it, “VAR, it turns out, far from being some neutral all-seeing eye, a benevolent Big Brother visiting justice upon the world, has plunged the game into epistemological crisis.”

For all the acknowledged beauty of VAR, the fact remains that refereeing decisions matches are ultimately made by human beings and human interpretations are always vulnerable to errors. One BBC commenter notes quite correctly that “VAR stands for Video Assistant Referee – that’s a person. An additional official who watches video feeds. Video feeds don’t make decisions.”

If there’s one positive about the handball rule and its interpretation by VAR, it is that there is consistency now. There are no grey areas. Every team will be subject to the same scrutiny.

However, while the use of VAR is helpful in many circumstances, devising more improvements on its application is necessary to erase any suspicion of bias or confusion in the beautiful game of football.

Source Daily Sports

Posted August 20, 2019


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