When the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system was “born” it was supposed to be the answer to all our prayers. This was going to clear up, once and for all, the many controversies and controversial incidents in games which referees allegedly get wrong.

It was a simple process and involved just four major “crime scenes.”

  • Goals,
  • Penalty decisions,
  • Direct red card, or
  • Mistaken identity.

The English decided to introduce a 5th one – the keeper coming off his line at the taking of a penalty kick.

Well, as we now know, not all has gone according to plan and there appears to be even more confusion with referees sometimes agreeing and disagreeing with the VAR guy.

Remember, VAR is only a machine controlled by an experienced referee, but at the end of the day, the referee has the final say, in accordance with Law 5 (Referees) of the FIFA Laws of the Game. He has to make the decision – yes or no.

My main concern is that referees are becoming too reliant on VAR to make a decision for them, and thereby abdicating their responsibly to do the job they were trained for.

We’ve seen it so many times. The referee is advised that there’s something untoward, he whispers in the ref’s ear, and the ref holds up play while the incident is being checked.

After what seems like an eternity, and I’m not knocking the time it takes, because the VAR Protocol does say to take as long as necessary to get it right, if he’s not sure of what the VAR is telling him, he can then go to the pitch side monitor and view the incident for himself. A decision is then taken.

My problem is that the referee, and I’m talking about the English Premier League (EPL) here, will invariably go with the recommendation of the VAR. Having said that, I have seen some refs disagree with the VAR and not take their advice

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