By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
  1. David Bolt

    David Bolt Member

    May 30, 2008
    Liverpool
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Wales

    Blame the rules, not VAR.

    By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
    [​IMG]

    While it’s technically not the end of a decade; the world will be entering the 2020s grappling with the consequences of the solutions they came up with in the 2010s to problems that probably didn’t exist.

    In football that means VAR, which is currently causing all sorts of problems in England. The clamour for VAR from a few years ago and the feeling of optimism that it was going to come in and solve the game’s problems has been replaced with a feeling of ‘what have we done?’

    VAR has become an example of being careful what you wish for. The consequence of the introduction of VAR to the Premier League is that people are realising that they may be getting correct decisions but it’s come at the cost of some of the speed, passion, excitement and enjoyment of football as now the reaction to a goal is to wait and see if it’s given rather than to immediately celebrate it.

    VAR is a completely unnecessary addition to football. It came into existence because we as fans have made two horrible mistakes. The first was that we’ve allowed a culture of scapegoating officials for the final result of a game despite all evidence showing referees made the right decision a really high percentage of the time.

    The truth is no referee has ever cost your team a match. Sure, a mistake made by a referee may have cost your team a goal, or seen a player sent off (or not) incorrectly, and that may have had a bearing on the final result, but football matches are made up of thousands of individual decisions.

    A referee has never picked the wrong team, or got their tactics wrong. They have never made a bad pass, missed a tackle, committed a stupid foul, lost concentration and let the player they’re marking escape, made the wrong run or missed an easy opportunity to score.

    All of those have just as much an effect on the final outcome of a game as a blown refereeing decision, if not more so, but we as fans have allowed the referee to take the blame when the blame lay elsewhere.

    Players and coaches were more than happy to allow this to happen as they got a free pass for the mistakes they made. The media were more than happy to highlight any refereeing mistake and analyse it to the nth degree.

    The second mistake was that fans convinced themselves that they wanted those mistakes eliminating, or even that they could be eliminated.

    And it’s that mistake that I think is at the root of the current frustrations with VAR.

    One thing that was predictable before the introduction of VAR and became immediately apparent was that, despite saying otherwise, fans weren’t really bothered if a decision is right or wrong; only how it affects their team or a team they don’t like. That’s why tight calls for or against one of the bigger teams cause such a stir.

    We talk of VAR like it’s a living, sentient being. VAR isn’t something to be anthropomorphised. It doesn’t ‘give’ or ‘take away’ goals. Teams don’t win or lose because of VAR. VAR isn’t for or against any team; no matter how many fans say it is.

    VAR is a tool that is used to help referees uphold the laws of the game. No more, no less.

    And, it has done its purpose in that it allowed the correct decisions to be made. In the Liverpool v Wolves game, Sadio Mane had a goal disallowed, incorrectly as it turned out, which was then corrected. Wolves’ Pedro Neto had a goal allowed, which is turned out he shouldn’t have. VAR helped the referee to come to the right decision both times.

    But, that isn’t really what people wanted. I think most people had a vision of VAR being used to make quick decisions to overturn big mistakes. Not slow decisions on everything.

    VAR has shown that there is a problem with the relationship between the rules of football and what fans want the game to be. Do we want the rules to be a framework we can make decisions around, or a hard and fast set of laws?

    Currently, the rules of football are a strange mix. Some are really simple and easy to follow. Others are Byzantine and seem counter-intuitive.

    But, the biggest problem with the rules, and the reason why VAR could never be what people wanted it to be is because the rules of football are largely subjective. It’s up to a referee to decide if a tackle merits a red card, if there really was enough contact for it to be a penalty or if a player dived. If a referee makes that call it’s hard for a video referee to change it.

    The most contentious VAR decisions are the offside ones. There have been plenty of examples this season of goals being disallowed for the most marginal of offsides. There were 4 in the last round of games alone.

    There’s always been a game of cat and mouse between defenders and attackers where the attacker plays on the shoulder of the defender looking to stay just onside and the defender looks to step up at the very last moment to play the attacker offside. The margins are fine.

    [​IMG]

    The problem seems to be that the technology is used to uphold rules that aren’t quite suited to being scrutinised.

    The English press have seized on a quote from IFAB (the board which makes the rules) General Secretary Lukas Brud who said “Clear and obvious still remains the important principle. There should not be a lot of time spent to find something marginal. If something is not clear on the first sight, then it's not obvious and it shouldn't be considered. Looking at one camera angle is one thing but looking at 15, trying to find something that was potentially not even there, this was not the idea of the VAR principle. It should be clear and obvious”

    So reading that, you’d think it should be easy to spot an offside on VAR. If you can’t see evidence to overturn it immediately then go with the call on the field.

    But, straight after that, Brud said

    If video evidence shows that a player was in an offside position, he was offside full stop. If it’s not obvious, then the decision cannot be changed, you stay with the original decision.”

    He then added “In theory one millimetre offside is offside, but if a decision is taken that a player is not offside and the VAR is trying to identify through looking at five, six, seven, 10, 12 cameras whether or not it was offside, then the original decision should stand”

    What does that mean? Call it offside if the video evidence shows it, but don’t use the video evidence to show it?

    There lies the problem. The rules and advice given are contradictory. Unlike most decisions the officials are faced with, offside is considered to be an objective one. We treat it as though you’re either offside or you’re not.

    While it instinctively feels wrong, the rules say if you’re a toenail or an armpit offside, you’re offside. Therefore, any mistake is an obvious one and if you’ve introduced technology for the purpose of getting things right, then the time should be taken to get it right.

    It’s difficult to know what can be done. VAR won’t be scrapped. What we probably need to do is adapt rules like offside to be more compatible with the technology.

    But even then I’m not sure how. If, as some suggest they should go back to using the ‘daylight rule’ where there had to be clear light between defender and attacker for offside to be called, all you’ll get is the same marginal calls as now, but on the back foot and the back armpit.

    Like many events of the 2010s, in VAR we’ve come up with a solution to a problem that didn’t exist. Something that was meant to please everyone has ended up pleasing no one. The challenge we have going forwards is to work how we can have VAR in football, and still have the parts of football we like.
     
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Comments

Discussion in 'Premier League' started by David Bolt, Dec 31, 2019.

    1. Paul Berry

      Paul Berry Member+

      Notts County and NYCFC
      England
      Apr 18, 2015
      Nr Kingston NY
      Nat'l Team:
      United States

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      VAR has been successfully implemented in MLS because the final decision has been left to the referee on the pitch. If he cannot tell it's offside by looking at a monitor then it's not offside.

      The Prem has implemented it the same way as it's been implemented in rugby and cricket where it can take 5 minutes to come to a decision.

      The EPL should swallow it's pride and abandon VAR for now and relaunch it the way it's been launched successfully in other leagues.

      Ask Howard Webb. He did a great job for MLS.
       
      JmThms, BalanceUT, BocaFan and 2 others repped this.
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    2. BocaFan

      BocaFan Member+

      Aug 18, 2003
      Brooklyn, NY

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      Unfortunately, offside is only objective in theory, not in practice. The technology is not precise to the millimeter yet. As such, I would make the red and blue lines thicker to account for the margin of error that the existing technology comes with.
       
    3. Southern Man

      Southern Man Member

      Jun 14, 2008

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      Theory and practice are the same thing. In theory.
       
    4. Nick79

      Nick79 Member

      May 4, 2015
      Club:
      Olympiakos Piraeus

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      VAR, or Replay Review or whatever you want to call it has ruined ever sport it's introduced into, especially NFL Football. Up until a year or two, I praised soccer world wide for staying the hell away from it! But then they went and ruined this sport too.
       
    5. kgilbert78

      kgilbert78 Member+

      Borussia Mönchengladbach
      United States
      Dec 28, 2006
      Cowlumbus, OH
      Club:
      Borussia Mönchengladbach
      Nat'l Team:
      United States

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      ..and in practice they are not.;)
       
    6. Sbey17

      Sbey17 Member

      Tottenham Hotspur
      Australia
      Jan 20, 2020

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      The problem with VAR is that the majority of decisions are subjective. If a decision takes the length of time they seem to be taking at the moment then it is not a clear and obvious errors. VAR should only be used to correct big mistakes and for all the debatable decisions they should stick with the on field decision. It should be seen as an error checker rather than a decision checker.
       
      JmThms repped this.
    7. Martin Coady

      Martin Coady New Member

      Liverp
      United States
      Oct 21, 2019

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      I agree with Nick79. VAR has ruined the game. I suspect no one will get rid of it (and I detest the MLS implementation, BTW. Takes forever). However, the issues surrounding a goal and the marginal off sides overruling could be eliminated. Make off sides rulings on the field; not subject to review. We will still face delays on goals with a lot of traffic in the box beforehand as they are reviewed for other violations (clear and obvious?), but these incidents where a brilliant goal is rescinded because the striker's toes were on some imaginary red line would be eliminated. The way the game should be: the referees make a decision and everyone learns to live with it.
       
    8. Deep Wilcox

      Deep Wilcox BigSoccer Supporter

      Jun 5, 2007
      Club:
      Arsenal FC
      Nat'l Team:
      United States

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      Are you wathcing the shit show of Mike Dean / VAR going on at Man City - Spurs; lunacy.
       
    9. Paul Berry

      Paul Berry Member+

      Notts County and NYCFC
      England
      Apr 18, 2015
      Nr Kingston NY
      Nat'l Team:
      United States

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      I much prefer Howard Webb's MLS implementation with the referee on the pitch making the final decision.

      If it's not a clear and obvious mistake on the monitor then there decision should not be overturned.

      I'd love to see some stats on how often individual referees utilise VAR. Gut feel says Chris Penso and Kevin Stott use it way too often.
       
    10. JmThms

      JmThms Member

      Jul 6, 2015

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      This blog opinion has largely missed. "VAR is a completely unnecessary addition to football " is a completely Bozo opinion. In a Game that is characterized by such low scores, and the nature of the Game renders refereeing difficult, and the outcome of Games often DO in fact rest on individual refereeing decisions, VAR has long been a necessary process. Otherwise the very integrity of the Game is undermined.

      VAR itself should not be in question. The IMPLEMENTATION of details of VAR use, the Laws of the Game itself, and referee decision making should be what's in question.
       
    11. JmThms

      JmThms Member

      Jul 6, 2015

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      I don't agree with this view at all. Especially a Game like Association football, where its so low scoring that a bad call can have such an outsized influence, VAR helps maintain its integrity. It's the way VAR is implemented, the Game's laws, and refereeing decisions that can ruin games.
       
    12. JmThms

      JmThms Member

      Jul 6, 2015

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      But what if the referee on the field is EGREGIOUSLY wrong? Like 5 yards in an offside position. VAR upholds the integrity of the Game here. There is a place for VAR in offside calls. But I do agree with implementation strategies that support the idea of the "clear and obvious error" criteria. Maybe something like a 30 second review limit (for the "if it takes so long to review it can't be clear and obvious" valid complaint), and doing away with the use of photogrammetry (if they have to resort to pixel analysis instead of direct visualization then again, it's not clear and obvious).
       
      kgilbert78 repped this.
    13. JmThms

      JmThms Member

      Jul 6, 2015

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      I've seen at least two occassions where referee Baldomero Toledo went to the sideline to review VAR and took the 100% wrong decision (according to my eyes and those if the game commentary team). But that is a problem of refereeing and not VAR itself. VAR isn't a safeguard against incompetent referees.
       
    14. Paul Berry

      Paul Berry Member+

      Notts County and NYCFC
      England
      Apr 18, 2015
      Nr Kingston NY
      Nat'l Team:
      United States

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      2 awful VAR decisions in the Chelsea - Man U game tonight which handed the game to United. Clearly the VAR was watching the Simpsons.
       
    15. JmThms

      JmThms Member

      Jul 6, 2015

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      Maybe but it was a problem of refereeing and not of the VAR system itself. "Get rid of VAR" is not a fix to anything.
       
    16. Paul Berry

      Paul Berry Member+

      Notts County and NYCFC
      England
      Apr 18, 2015
      Nr Kingston NY
      Nat'l Team:
      United States

      Blame the rules, not VAR.

      By David Bolt on Dec 31, 2019 at 1:19 PM
      The Simpsons bit was a reference to an infamous Mike Petke rant.



      Overall I think the MLS implementation went well but communication needs to improve. I think the ref on the pitch should have the final say.
       
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