Are refs be­com­ing too re­liant on the VAR?

CityPress - - Sport - Er­rol Sweeney sports@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @dr_er­rol

of­fi­cials at ev­ery turn and, it has to be said, are suc­ceed­ing in many in­stances – sadly.

This is the fault of the match of­fi­cials, who have sufficient pow­ers to deal with such shenani­gans, but are not us­ing those pow­ers.

I was in favour of the in­tro­duc­tion of the VAR be­cause I thought it would stop the skul­dug­gery, but I’m not so sure about it now. The play­ers are still div­ing and cheat­ing. The man­agers and their prima donna play­ers are con­stantly ques­tion­ing de­ci­sions and the refs don’t seem sure about when and when not to use it.

In a ra­dio in­ter­view I gave dur­ing the week, I sug­gested that we (match of­fi­cials) should be called re­ac­tionar­ies and not ref­er­ees. Af­ter all, isn’t that what we do? We see an in­ci­dent and we re­act to it.

We see a hand ball, we give a free kick. We see vi­o­lent con­duct, we give a red card. It’s hu­man in­stinct.

I be­lieve we should get back to ba­sics – we should do the sim­ple things and do them well.

Many other leagues or cup com­pe­ti­tions don’t have the VAR. What about them? They have to rely on the ref­eree and his as­sis­tants and trust that they are up to speed on the laws of the game and will do their hon­est best to be fair to both teams.

Sure, it will be ar­gued that the World Cup is im­por­tant, but the ques­tion is, im­por­tant to whom? Other league and cup games are also im­por­tant. They don’t have, and are not likely to get, the VAR, ei­ther now or at some point in the fu­ture. What then?

The other is­sue I think is im­por­tant to raise is that the ref­er­ees ap­pear to be too re­liant on the VAR, and that can be dan­ger­ous. Now they won’t even make a de­ci­sion in case it is wrong – and there have been cases in which ref­er­ees have got de­ci­sions wrong only to re­verse that de­ci­sion fol­low­ing con­sul­ta­tion with the VAR.

Man­agers, TV com­men­ta­tors, coaches and pun­dits also have to ease off. They are quick to go to their own ac­tion re­plays and high­light where the ref­eree made the wrong de­ci­sion. It makes for good tele­vi­sion. How won­der­ful to have a slow-mo func­tion so they can make them­selves into some kind of ex­pert.

How great to al­ways be right when you have such equipment to am­plify the point that “the ref got that one wrong”. Fan­tas­tic, eh?

Ref­er­ees had only one chance be­fore the VAR to get it right. The prob­lem now is that ref­er­ees, be­cause they are be­ing cas­ti­gated in the elec­tronic and print me­dia for mak­ing a mis­take, will hes­i­tate be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion, and then the man­agers and coaches will be jump­ing up and down say­ing the VAR is slow­ing the game down and taking the ex­cite­ment out of the match.

Well, man­agers and coaches, you can’t have your cake and eat it. Make up your mind and let us know. We have only one chance (mi­nus the VAR) to make a de­ci­sion. You ei­ther ac­cept it, or the call by ref­er­ees to in­crease the num­ber of de­ci­sions cur­rently in force for the VAR to op­er­ate from four to what­ever will grow louder and louder.

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