The A-League needs VAR training overhaul for referees this off-season

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It is always easy for teams and fans to cast a villain in their club’s story in a season full of ups and downs.

For many, it may be a player who failed to perform at their expected level. Others may choose to blame poor coaching.

But as football changes, many fans find it easier and easier to blame VAR. The system is inherently floored and can easily change the balance of the game unfairly.

However, in the 2020/21 A-League season, no team can feel more victimised than Western United and Mark Rudan.

As the club currently sit tenth on the table with four games to go, their chances to make finals seem to have finally slipped away.

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They faced yet another controversial VAR decision going against them in their match up with Sydney FC, after a shot deflected off the thigh of United defender Ivan Vujica onto his arm in the penalty box. VAR deemed it worthy of a penalty, leading to Sydney to score the only goal of the game.

VAR has been poor all season, but for a club like United who has struggled with injury and inconsistent performance, the continual failure of the system has mainly hindered their progress.

In one of the best seasons we have seen in quite some years, but the failure of the A-League to correctly apply and fix its refereeing issue with VAR may potentially take one of the most exciting teams out of the finals.

For the A-League to continually grow and be a league that is not merely a training ground for young kids, or a retirement stop for former players, there needs to be some transparent reform with its refereeing process.

The A-league has continually made promises to fix the VAR issue, however, the idea and concept of VAR is not bad by any imagination.

All fans and players want the correct call but not at the expense of common sense.

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The current training standards of referees need to be substantially improved to apply the VAR system better.

An apology by the A-League after a mistake is made in a game is not suitable for a failing referee system.

For clubs to be financially impacted by losing finals after poor decisions, and the league allowed to continue with its same error-filled decisions, walking with its tail between its legs seems like a poor trade-off.

VAR as a system needs to stay in the game because it is vital for its success.

However, the referees currently applying the rules need new training and the flexibility to use common sense as opposed to following the letter of the law at the cost of the game.

Feature Image Credit: Western United

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Pokuah Frimpong
Obsessed football fan, current journalism student.

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