It’s time to give VAR the boot

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The use of Video Assistant Referees within the A-League Men needs to be halted. Until the system can be used in the way it was intended, there is no point in unfairly affecting the results of games along the way.

I’m sure we all remember the memes of Robbie Slater measuring the ball on the goal-line after the Sydney Derby in October 2019. I can’t be the only one that assumed the technological issues would have been resolved by now.

Yet, the start of the 2021/22 season has shown that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The season is only three rounds in, yet the number of games with VAR drama can almost be counted on two hands.

Three weeks ago, Angus Thurgate and Newcastle Jets were denied what appeared to be a clear goal after an error from Jamie Young. Because it was an FFA Cup match, VAR wasn’t used.

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Two weeks ago, the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) admitted that VAR ‘wasn’t working perfectly’ during the season opener between Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar. Network outage issues with the in-game technology resulted in Brisbane’s equaliser being ruled out for offside.

Last week, Dylan Wenzel-Hall’s late winner was awarded despite still images showing that Connor Pain had clearly dribbled the ball over the by-line.

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It brings us back to the main point. Why are we continuing to use a system designed to help us make better decisions, when it is not doing so?

APL commissioner Greg O’Rourke highlighted the purpose of VAR back in April.

“The reason people turn to technology is because they want to be better informed and they want to make better decisions – and we’re no different in sport,” he said.

Quite clearly, we are not better informed nor are better decisions being made.

This is in large part due to the cameras being used at A-League Men venues. It is a well-known fact that Fox Sports reduced the number of cameras at football stadiums towards the end of their broadcasting deal. Whilst it doesn’t seem like a big deal, it can impact the replay angles being used in the VAR booth.

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We saw this last season in a match between Western United and Melbourne Victory. The camera behind the goals was inactive, meaning that the angle needed to definitely check the offside on Dylan Pierias’ goal wasn’t available.

In the Paramount deal, it contained a clause giving broadcasters the ability to scale the number of cameras used at matches up or down depending on the importance of certain fixtures.

This is ridiculous. All league matches should be considered the same importance when the same prize is on offer. Three points.

The Wenzel-Halls goal could have been easily fixed by having a single camera on the other side of the ground. It would have allowed for the perfect angle to make an informed decision, as per the VAR’s sole purpose.

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Instead, the VAR is left in a position to make important calls with limited evidence. If you’re a lawyer with limited evidence, you drop the charges.

Maybe it’s time for the A-League Men to temporarily drop the VAR. It isn’t doing the game any good by consistently being in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

I’m not saying that it has no place in the game. But I am saying that until there is a day when we have enough active cameras covering all four sides of the ground, VAR will always be ineffective.

Let’s have faith in the referees that have guided this game over the past 100 years. If it means we can celebrate after goals rather than waiting for a VAR check, I’m sure most of us would accept the occasional human error.

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After all, the VAR is making mistakes and taking away the excitement of the game. Why not bring back the excitement and trust those who train full-time to make the big decisions in real-time.

Fans understand that errors can be made. Football doesn’t need some technology that isn’t capable of preventing these errors from being made.

Until that day is possible, let’s remove VAR and enjoy the game for what it is.

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Dillon Izon
Dillon Izon
Marketing graduate at Monash University. Sports addicted, fan of Manchester United and Melbourne City. My gran “knows” Gareth Bale.

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