Let’s be clear. The decision last Thursday by Premier League clubs to implement VAR at the start of the 2019-20 season is no time for popping champagne corks. The fact of the matter is we are now faced with the shocking prospect of Mike Riley’s VAR which will mean almost zero change from the patently unsatisfactory status quo. Believe it or not, under Riley’s VAR:
- Charlie Austin’s goal for Southampton vs Watford would remain off-side and the PGMOL would squelch his protest by pointing to their VAR.
- Kevin Friend would never be over-ruled for giving a yellow instead of red card for a studs-up, two-footer by Jorghino on Gylfi Sigurdsson.
- None of Martin Atkinson’s two questionable penalty calls versus Arsenal in their game versus Crystal Palace would be up for review.
Despite all the sound and fury since Thursday, none of the worthless mainstream media has explained to the fans that Riley’s VAR will represent little if any change. It is left to us at UniteForVAR to unmask the deception that is underway .
The slow walk to VAR
The fact that the PL clubs voted for VAR was a belated concession to the inevitable, by the so-called greatest league in the world, which has been left languishing in the dust behind all the other big European leagues. Notably the Bundesliga adopted VAR 1.5 years ago while La Liga, Ligue Une and Serie-A all came on board this season. Of note, while the richest league in the world twiddled its thumb, relatively hard-up leagues such as the Dutch Eredivise, the Portugese First Division and even the MLS have long adopted VAR technology to assist referees get major decisions right, the Dutch being pioneers two years ago.
One of the self-evident reasons why PL clubs could not have approved implementation of VAR in 2018-19 was the farcical, bungled trials conducted by Mike Riley and the PGMOL last January. As most of the mainstream media gleefully reported it was “shambles.”
Based on reports from the legacy media and reports by fans, this year’s trials do not appear to have been significantly better. We at UniteForVAR had an eyewitness account, by BabaGrumpy, of the trial match between Arsenal and Brentford on October 26th.
Mike Dean showed his anti VAR hand on Wednesday in the Iwobi penalty appeal. He waived it away. I was expecting play to stop when the ball went out of play and for the Emirate Stadium’s PA system to announce a referral to VAR. I expected wrong. This was a decision perfectly made for VAR and Mike Dean bottled it.
You can watch a video of the tackle again using this link:
It is clear the Brentford player got NOTHING of the ball. He fouled Iwobi in the box. The video in that link however did not show the position of the referee. It was either the referee wasn’t properly positioned, in which case a clear and obvious error had occurred and needed VAR’s assistance or he chose to ignore the foul tackle, which makes you wonder what his motives are.
The VAR was there to be used and it doesn’t matter if Arsenal are two nil up already. This is the trial the Referee’s body is meant to be using to hone their skills for large-scale use of VAR and Mike Dean balls it up.
I am yet to see a single person including Brentford fans that think that was not a foul on Iwobi. The use of the referee’s judgment in this ridiculously subjective way is wrong and it is what VAR is meant to iron out.
So, Mike Dean, who is one of Riley’s senior referees, indicates plainly to the public he is anti-VAR. Anyone who has watched Dean as a PL referee, for the past ten or so years, knows he is very demonstrative, especially in showing how much he is in charge of a football match. We therefore have little reason to doubt Baba’s assessment of his body language. If Dean is negative in his attitude to VAR, how much is it reflective of the entire PGMOL from top-to-bottom?
Who needs any damn, stinking VAR?
Dean’s attitude illustrates what is at the root of the current fiasco whenever there are trials of VAR by the PGMOL. These tests are based on the entirely false assumption by Mike Riley that the PGMOL is currently doing a near perfect job of refereeing. He disclosed last January that his referees currently get 96% of decisions accurate (even higher than FIFA’s calculation for their referees):
If we’re saying 4% of decisions are wrong, a 2% improvement is good for the game, as long as we don’t increase interference.
No wonder Mike Dean is hostile to VAR. His boss has assured him he is 96% right, if not higher. Who needs any damn, stinking VAR?
As a further example of how the PGMOL has a highly inflated opinion of itself, last September after the Stockley Park centralized hub for VAR was tested, the PL issued a press release, via the BBC, declaring:
Only one decision would have been overturned in the five games during which the Premier League trialled video assistant referees (VAR) on Saturday.
PGMOL referees will never be over-ruled
Hence unlike FIFA’s, the proposed Mike Riley’s VAR will never have the officials at Stockley Park overrule a referee who has made an erroneous that decision. In Mike Riley’s own words, according to The Independent:
The system will instead only be called upon when a referee has missed something that is demonstrably black or white. The rule of thumb is essentially “if it’s not clear and obvious, leave it”, and “minimum interference, maximum benefit”.
The Independent further explained:
It in theory means that highly debatable incidents won’t go to review, like penalty decisions that require repeated replays to discern whether it was a foul or a dive, especially since referees have no recourse to call for VAR assistance. They are advised to just referee the game as normal.
No wonder therefore, in the trials last February, Mike Dean could ignore the foul on Iwobi in the box. He is under no obligation to accept any advice, if any, from Stockley Park, for there to be reviews or replays. Therefore his attitude was: Carry on, son. I am the boss.
What a travesty! What a disgrace!
Next time, if no other dramatic events intercede, this blog will demonstrate how PGMOL referees are poor in their decision-making and that there needs to be a robust, transparent, unbiased VAR to help reverse a pattern of “lawless refereeing.”
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