Respect for referees
VAR – what is it good for? Quite a lot of things, actually.
After years of people bleating on about it, video technology in football finally got a high-profile airing as Spain beat France 2-0 thanks to a pair of offside decisions corrected by a Video Assistant Referee (VAR), who viewed proceedings from a vehicle outside the ground like an omnipotent Andy Townsend in his tactics truck. It’s a long-awaited move that will undoubtedly revolutionise the game, and the first group to benefit will be referees. Officials who have overseen trial runs of the VAR have commented that players accepted decisions immediately, whereas in the past they would have chased them around the pitch shouting. Footballers have more confidence in technology than they do in referees, clearly.
The Awkward Celebration
For a footballer, there are few things more embarrassing than that moment when – overcome with the emotion of scoring – you undertake the wildest, most uninhibited celebration of your life, only to find out that the linesman’s flag has been raised, prompting a shriek of protest swiftly followed by a sheepish dash back into position. (Perhaps the most painful example being Sol Campbell’s excruciating Marco Tardelli impression after “scoring” for England against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup.)
The VAR will make these awkward moments commonplace, providing endless amusement for neutral observers. But this in turn will lead to…
Not every by-product of VAR technology will be positive, and the most unpleasant effect will be a tempering of the unbridled ecstasy of scoring. As VAR leads to an increasing number of chalked-off goals, scoring will become infected by uncertainty. Sufferers of extreme Goal Paranoia will most likely be those with extensive previous experiences of Awkward Celebrations (see above). In these cases, players (and some fans) will find themselves physically unable to celebrate goals in the ensuing 20 seconds after scoring them (after which point the moment would have gone). Similarly, VAR will create several anguished seconds of false hope for those who concede goals.
Retrospective Injustice Syndrome
While it’s nice to imagine that VAR will help coaches gracefully accept defeats, this is an impossible dream because the vast majority of managers are blinkered self-preservationists. It’s therefore likely they will be angered by VAR decisions even if they are correct, for instance by complaining that they were denied technology’s benefits when decisions went against them in the past. This may lead to a new phenomenon known as Retrospective Injustice Syndrome (RIS). Anyone suffering from RIS will be unable to accept they have not been wronged by referring decisions over the course of their entire careers. RIS patients will share a deeply held conviction that, while VAR may help level things out over the course of the season, it will not be able level out the terrible injustices that already happened in previous seasons. Managers who show symptoms of vulnerability to RIS include Jose Mourinho and Neil Warnock.
End of complaining about lack of video technology
The phrase, “Why can’t they have video technology like in the rugby/cricket/tennis?” is currently uttered approximately 1.2 million times a year in the UK alone. A perfectly legitimate question, but one that has gradually become more boring than a Sam Allardyce away performance. Once VAR is rolled out across the Premier League, this debate will end, freeing up thousands of hours of discussion space for far worthier subjects such as literature, philosophy and jazz (although there is also a danger that Paul Nuttall could attempt to fill the space with stuff about immigrants, so we must remain vigilant).
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