People are divided over Video Assistant Refereeing, as it begins to be fazed into football.
In the first, Chelsea were 1-0 down as Eden Hazard surged into the box, only to be ‘fouled’ by Hector Bellerin. The resulting penalty, which Hazard converted, led to Chelsea coming back into the game, and consequentially gaining a point. Footage of the alleged foul showed it to be weak at best, but nevertheless it was given. No Video Refereeing Assistant was available.
In the second, the score was 0-0 in the first leg of a closely fought cup tie. Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas charged into the box, similar to Hazard, and Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck brought him down. Antonio Conte’s animated shrieks on the sideline for the foul to be video reviewed were granted, and the referee deemed it to not be a foul- which it wasn’t. Thanks to the VAR, the result stayed as it should have.
That’s all that it means- “the result stayed as it should have.”
Gone are the post-match interviews of Harry Redknapp lamenting how “you win sum ya lose sum y’know, thats just the game,” and gone are the playground scuffles in which Dan, six, Arsenal fan, thinks Granit Xhaka’s two footed drop kick in the box was a “harsh decision,” the VRA is providing clarity to the game.
Every football fan will be able to pinpoint a moment in their team’s history which they were wrongly done by.
As a Chelsea supporter, I’m thinking of that semi-final against Barcelona in which about six handballs happened, and Michael Ballack nearly murdered a referee with his banshee scream, and as an England fan, I’m thinking of that World Cup game against Germany in which Matthew Upton scored with his face, and Frank Lampard scored, but didn’t. Goal line technology could sort that out now, and VRA will sort out similar incidents in the future.
There have been concerns that it would slow the game
down unnecessarily, breaking up momentum and giving teams a time to regroup. However, the International Football Association Board (who implemented the measure) have clearly stated that it is to be used “to correct clear errors and for missed serious incidents,” meaning penalties, red cards, and goals. These incidents don’t happen too frequently, especially not contentious ones. The average stop time as a result of the VRA is two and a half minutes. Two and a half minutes won’t kill a game, but it will stop teams being unfairly killed off.
VRA is regulated, effective, and long overdue, and with it, English football takes another step towards modernisation.