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The Darke Side: VAR Here To Stay

Ian Darke looks at the contentious introduction of video replays

23 April 2020

VAR

Football was once played without crossbars, nets, floodlights, offsides, substitutes, yellow and red cards, and with a pig’s bladder for the ball.

Pompey even played in pink for heaven’s sake. Change happens, mostly for the best.

So the notion that VAR is some kind of evil revolution which will kill all the joy in the game is pretty far-fetched.

Yes, there are teething troubles and no-one is trying to produce the perfect match. But it comes down to this: Do you want an outrage like the Diego Maradona ‘Hand of God’ goal to stand?

Do you think the Thierry Henry handball, which deprived Ireland of a place at the World Cup, is okay?

VAR would have corrected both.

Many might argue that such incidents – while regrettable – are all part of the dramas and controversies which make the football world go round.

Would they still be shrugging their shoulders and saying ‘oh well, that’s football’ if an undetected offside or handball cost their club promotion or a cup final win in the last minute? No, they would be raging down the line on the next football phone-in.

"Would they still be shrugging their shoulders and saying ‘oh well, that’s football’ if an undetected offside or handball cost their club promotion or a cup final win in the last minute?"

Ian Darke

In any case, VAR has hardly put a stop to talking points, has it? Match of the Day pundit Danny Murphy recently said he thinks it should be scrapped. Pep Guardiola and Steve Bruce also seem to have their doubts.

No question, it does dilute the drama and the fans have to be kept better informed than they are.

Toenail offside decisions needing a slide rule are ridiculous. A tweak in the laws to ‘clear daylight’ makes sense, so we can all see it with the naked eye.

I totally get those who want the game back as it was – and still is, outside the Premier League.

But VAR is not going away. It does deliver justice. It does correct horrendous decisions (of which there were too many last season).

The debate now is how to get the technology working as smoothly and seamlessly as it can. Minimum intrusion, maximum justice and a fan-friendly feel are the targets. It might take three years.

Bin it? If you think that, fine. But just don’t ever moan about another decision. You had the chance to get it right and said ‘no, thanks’.

PS: Just think, VAR would have wiped out Leicester’s blatantly offside goal against Pompey on that heart-breaking play-off night in 1993 – and saved referee Roger Milford’s blushes.

This column first appeared in this season's Pompey v Bolton matchday magazine.


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