VAR has its teething problems but we must stick by it, writes Carl Grierson.
It has been three eventful months since the introduction of VAR and despite its merits fans remain sceptical when discussing its future.
Its aim was an obvious one – to reduce refereeing mistakes and in turn diffuse the criticism and injustice that at times engulfs the beautiful game.
Those in charge of its implementation were enthused by its success in other sports yet the current result has been tarnished with controversy and at times laughable negligence. This has in turn placed officials back under the spotlight and back into the consciousness of supporters.
It began with an FA Cup encounter between Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion – a penalty awarded and a goal ruled out which left players, managers and supporters watching on bemused as the minutes ticked by and lines of the communication were left non existent.
The most high-profile talking point to date came in the same competition and a game between Huddersfield Town & Manchester United.
A goal disallowed for offside that on review was marginal to say the least and the VAR evidence atrociously inadequate when beamed to the millions watching on television. A system that was designed to bring credibility and transparency was being clouded in its own inadequacies.
The sentiment and the principle behind the system is certainly honorable. Head of referees Mike Riley sought to assure people in January.
“The select group of referees get 96 per cent of decisions right, so four per cent wrong.
“We don’t want errors in the game and if this improves it by two per cent then the game has improved. That would be two per cent less decisions for people to get agitated about”.
There remains an argument however that it is precisely the agitation and debate that we as fans enjoy and which makes football the people’s sport. Whilst the past few months have demonstrated ineptitude and controversy, this writer remains inclined to believe that VAR does still have a part to play, for better and for worse.
It needs to be given the time to minimise what are challenging teething problems. So great are the rewards for success and costs for defeat in the modern game that the end result should in truth justify the means.
The option to resort to its capabilities is certainly something that should be available yet the thought that it will ever make the game 100% error proof is fanciful to say the least and something I am not sure I would even wish to see.
Its confirmed use within Russia this summer on the greatest-stage-of-all will certainly bring it back into sharp focus and under the watchful eye of the world, failure is simply not an option.
Or is it?
Controversy is one of the reasons why we all love football right?