English Premier League finally introduced VAR since the beginning of this season. You were probably asking yourself why did it take so long for them to make such a decision, but after the first 4 game weeks, we are starting to see many imperfections. Before start of the Premier League season, we have prepared a campaign that breaks down everything you need to know about Video Assistant Referees - read more here.
VAR: What are the main cons?
Everyone understands what are the pros of VAR – more accuracy with some key decisions. But there are many cons, and probably the biggest one is that some decisions simply can't be fully accepted by everyone. Even if there is a VAR replay to reconsider a penalty after a foul, the nature of football leads to disagreements and debates. Decisions are still up to human's interpretation – a foul would be a penalty for one referee, but maybe two other referees would never agree with such decision.
The other problem is the offside decision. It's a geometric decision, and there are only two outcomes – offside or no offside. But, the speed of football simply can't be caught with such cameras, which can record up to 120 frames per second. Sometimes millimetres decide, and a player who is onside can be more than 10 centimetres offside in the next frame. How to exactly decide a frame of the moment when the ball is passed? It leaves a lot of room for mistakes, and if you want, manipulation when making a decision to favour some club with giving publicity „the proof“ for your decision.
Probably the biggest problem is killing football as we know it. The most important part of a football game is goals, and you won't see them a lot of times. Compared with the other major sports, football is the lowest scoring sport. Goal scoring moment is the moment of ecstasy, both at the stadiums and in front of TVs, and now that moment must be put on hold because of the VAR reviews. Of course, those reviews take a lot of time and stop the game, what is killing the play. Because of that, we have some situations with, for example, +8 minutes additional time in the 1st half, even when a single substitution wasn't made.
Consistency is the biggest problem
It seems that VAR in the English Premier League is „reserved“ mostly for offside situations. There is no consistency with it covering all the play on the field, so we might see some goals in which there was some unnoticed handball, and 20 seconds later we have a goal that needs an offside check. No offside, the goal stays, but what to do with the handball that happened earlier? If VAR is meant to be reliable, then it should give you 100% certainty. But in such case the game would last for 3 hours, because of the checks for all the fouls, corners, throw-ins – all these situations can lead to a goal and be game-changers.
This weekend there was some „typical“ problem in the game between Leicester and Bournemouth. Youri Tielemans made a dangerous tackle on Callum Wilson's ankle, and after the review, there was no red card. Most of the people would agree with the straight red, but unfortunately, „most“ isn't something precise.
Another interesting situation is when Villa's Henri Lansbury goal against Crystal Palace was disallowed because of diving of his teammate Jack Grealish just before he assisted the goal. The player obviously got down without some serious contact, but what would be the correct decision? Again, most of the people say Villa was robbed there, but once again we have a problem with this „most“.
In the first game weeks of this season referees in the Premier League look funny with their decisions, and VAR has just brought some more controversy. Something should be done there during this international break because introducing „great new things“ which don't help, or actually, make things even worse – simply has no sense.