The greatest gift a human being has is the ability to discern right from wrong; with the added ability to admit wrong and ask for forgiveness.
In football, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is suppose to promptly review controversial decisions of the on-field referee.
When John Moss blew a penalty against Aston Villa last Thursday night at Villa Park, one video review quickly showed Bruno Fernandes was the culprit in the foul called on Ezri Konsa and VAR should have overturned Moss’ ‘clear and obvious’ error but to the bewilderment of many, VAR allowed the kick and United scored.
Later on, in the same match, Moss showed a yellow card to Fred for a perfectly good tackle and we may begin to understand the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of Moss as a referee, even though the VAR decision was totally not in his purview.
VAR decided Moss made no mistake in calling the phantom foul for penalty – ‘not a clear and obvious error’.
In normal and transparent systems, they would take both referees off duty for a while to reset their eyes and enhance their ability to judge situations correctly.
Moss followed up this shocker by overturning a valid Crystal Palace goal against Aston Villa last Saturday via a VAR decision after the pitch referee had given the goal.
Unfortunately, all the blame cannot be laid solely on the pitch referees. Their colleagues, tasked with manning VAR, are complicit. Maybe because they want to be in tandem with a colleague.
That is a cult mentality!
Call for common sense despite VAR
We made the law for man and not man for the law. In the past two weeks, (VAR) has come into sharp focus once again because of its vague protocol and attendant interpretation by the pitch referee and those tasked with the technology.
In Serie A, VAR’s many culpabilities happen because of the handball rule, which is so fudged that individual interpretations have become the norm. Whereas VAR should help the centre referee to make the best decision–they have become outright rubber-stamps (coaches) for their decisions.
“The referee’s original decision will not be changed unless there was a clear and obvious error,” reads the International Football Association Board [IFAB] protocol, and this is at the crux of the gray areas and inconsistencies.
No nonsense former referee, Pierluigi Collina, has now been put in charge of streamlining the technology so that every football league can follow the same protocol.
Speaking at a World Football Summit as reported on Reuters last Friday, Collina alluded to the cult-like solidarity between on-pitch referees and their VAR colleagues.
“Another thing to be considered (is) a sort of the wrong idea of solidarity,” Collina said. “If you belong to a team, you always try to protect your teammates. If your teammate made a mistake, you try to find everything to say ‘no, no, no, he was correct’.
“It’s a sort of friendship, I’d say. Referees must understand the solidarity and friendship that they want to show is to tell their colleague ‘be careful, you might have made a mistake’.
Collina added, “‘It’s better that you (pitch referee) have another chance watching the incident on a monitor, you have assessed probably wrongly so that finally you can avoid a mistake.”
VAR will only become successful if it can call out pitch referees on their mistakes. If they continue covering for one another, then the essence of VAR will have been defeated.