I can’t wait to see the reactions to VAR in the Premier League next season going by the wild, outlandish response to VAR in this current Women’s World Cup (WWC) especially after the England vs Cameroon game.
We all saw the Cameroon team refusing to restart the game after the decision on their disallowed goal. Later their head coach, Alain Djeumfa, insisted that his side were the victims of a “miscarriage of justice”
We saw Phil Neville, post game, pontificating at the expense of the opposition who were aggrieved at the decisions. He declared to the assembled media how he felt:
… complete and utterly ashamed at the behavior of the opposition.”
Good Lord. Is this the same Phil Neville of Manchester United who never felt any tactic was below his former club in their pursuit of victory? Where is the grace in victory and humility in defeat?
Emboldened by all the controversy, the online publication joe.co.uk declared:
The problems created by VAR are worse than those it’s designed to solve
“What VAR has done is paralyse that passion. So indoctrinated are we already by the idea that our celebration will be followed by an interruption to go the video ref that goals are increasingly being met with muted responses.”
One wonders if roles were reversed and England had lost the match because of those two calls going against them, if we would be reading such a sanguine declaration by the writer. Wouldn’t joe.co.uk be clamoring for VAR to be improved and enhanced? Dollars to donuts is my wager or a penny for your shilling.
Further afield, the headline in the Toronto Sun reads:
Brewing VAR powder keg blows up at Women’s World Cup
“In an effort to satisfy a vocal minority, the governing body of soccer have ruined the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup for the majority with their employment of Video Assistant Referee (VAR).”
Needless to say the statement is a blatantly misleading. FIFA originally had no intention of implementing VAR at the WWC until a majority of women (players and officials), mainly from teams who made the finals, demanded equal treatment, in terms of refereeing, to the men in the 2018. It is easy for the Sun to pontificate, post hoc, that FIFA bowed to a minority but did they have the balls or the integrity publish anything against the women having VAR at the WWC during the period when FIFA was being heavily lobbied. Of course not. At the time they were too busy accommodating the “Me Too” movement to publish anything that was factual and objective; i.e. the risks of rolling out VAR in a major tournament with less than one year preparation. Nah, too politically inconvenient.
Appetizer for Premier League
In my opinion this is just a foretaste, an appetizer, of the faux controversy, hypocrisy and duplicity towards VAR which we can expect from the media when the new Premier League season commences in August. Multiply the WWC by a thousand times it won’t come close.
Already the coverage of the PL in England is round-the-clock, serving the avaricious demands of the 24-hour news cycle. Given that VAR will directly impact on game changing decisions, it will simply heighten the stakes in a league with so much riches and fan rivalry at stake.
Layer on top of that, with Mike Riley’s VAR, the PL will be different from the FIFA-IFAB model, which is now the standard. For example, the PGMOL will operate without the pitch-side monitor for the on-field referee, contrary to Law 4 which states that this referee has the final authority. Recently we learnt the PL’s VAR will not intervene when keepers stray off the line during a penalty. It is predictable, as night follows day, that these kinds of exceptions will spark protests from teams, officials and players who will feel aggrieved that remedies commonly available everywhere else in the world is denied them in England.
Meanwhile the English media can be relied on to milk every VAR-related snafu, whether a act of God or Man, to spin a narrative of confusion or mayhem because at the end of the day they simply don’t care whether the right decision was made, which is the essence of VAR. They simply care about the eyeballs they can attract to their media in the hope of leveraging it commercially.
Next season’s Premier League may well see the fulfillment of the media’s vision for VAR. It may not take the same extreme form as as England versus Cameroon, but the mainstream media will spin every VAR incident as virtually World War III. Most fans can be expected to fall for the fake news and faux controversy. Mike Riley will be happy as long as he escapes any backlash for for implementing a half-arsed VAR.
The Luddites failed to stop the Industrial Revolution in England. One wonders if they will succeed with preventing full implementation of video technology in football.