After only a month of the Hyundai A-League, fans, coaches and players are all asking the same question: Has the VAR system been a success?
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system was introduced with much fanfare into the Hyundai A-League during round 26 last season in the game between Melbourne City FC and Adelaide United.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) CEO David Gallop believed the use of the new technology was a significant moment for football in Australia.
“Since the use of video technology was first mooted, FFA has been at the vanguard for the use of the system and we took on an audacious plan to ensure that we could produce a compliant system for the use in the Hyundai A-League as soon as possible,” explained Gallop.
The recent game between Sydney FC and Perth Glory exposed some flaws in the system when a decision by the on field referee Shaun Evans to award a penalty to Sydney FC was reviewed by the VAR. Evans took two minutes to decide to use the VAR, former Hyundai A-League referee Strebre Delovski, with the VAR then taking another two minutes to find that the original decision by Evans was correct.
Fans in the stands, including myself, were left confused and frustrated with the delay of nearly four minutes.
Comments such as “Why is this decision taking so long?” “Let’s get on with the game, the VAR is slowing the game down!” “Get the game going! I’m not a fan of the VAR!” were common amongst the crowd.
Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe lost patience during the break in play and briefly stormed off down the tunnel.
“Run out of electricity it was taking that long to make a decision. I think the duration said everything,” Lowe told Fox Sports after the game.
Football is always going to have some grey areas in the rules and even with the introduction of video technology, human interpretation will be divided on what decision is correct.
The recent Melbourne derby is an interesting example. The challenge from Melbourne Victory defender Rhys Williams on Melbourne City’s Osama Malik resulted in a yellow card for the Victory defender, however the tough challenge could easily have been a straight red card with Malik being substituted as a result of the foul.
The VAR stepped in and reviewed the incident and again after another lengthy delay, found that the decision of the referee was correct. City players and fans were left fuming that the decision wasn’t reversed, while Victory players and supporters were glad their team still had 11 players on the field.
Again, difference of opinion and grey areas in the laws of the game and the VAR not necessarily helping.
The overall opinion of the football community is that the VAR system is not required and if the FFA insists on using it, then it needs improving. The VAR has slowed down the beautiful game of football, created confusion amongst fans, coaches and players and provided more opportunity for coaches and players to vent their frustrations at match officials.
Referee’s are humans and are not perfect, mistakes will happen. Every team will get their fair share of good decisions and bad; let’s not let video technology ruin the beautiful game. Keep it simple.
By Joel Martelli for [FC BALLER]