Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Video Assistant Referees and Mutually Assured Destruction

In League One, we don't have VAR. I really, really don't want it. 

The interrupted moment of pleasure, the application of a cold science to a game built on passion and romance. 

Attending a game with VAR is like attending a rave with a sound limiter that cuts out the music at the exact point you don't want it to. 

VAR is the logical outcome of 25 years of over exposure of football. 25 years of people mistakenly thinking it matters because people on telly talk as if it really matters. 

What really matters about football is that it is a howl in the wind, a deluded punt on chance, a recurring hope for the once in a lifetime, the unexpected, the just about possible. 

What really matters is the release, the primal scream and flying limbs of the goal. Being lost in the crowd. 

What doesn't really matter is whether someone called split decision right in the blink of an eye from 40 yards away. 

Even Mike Dean agrees (above)

It's fast, it's chaotic and every moment of beauty and transcendent skill has a twin moment of miscontrol, misplaced pass or mistimed tackling. 

Trying to iron out the imperfections in the game is like complaining that forest floor is covered in leaves. You fundamentally don't understand the game, if you believe error can be eliminated. 

Hearing experts and executives grown fat on Premier League money chatting earnestly about the importance of the 'integrity of decision making' and ensuring no club suffers or benefits 'from unfairness' doesn't need a very strong sense of irony. 

VAR is only there to give a sense of presence to TV companies - to legitimise their involvement in the game, to ensure that TV football is felt to be more and more part of the very fabric. 

VAR is there to ensure we feel more and more like the game itself is facilitated by TV and not the other way round.  

Things people who are wrong say in support of VAR

A) It's important to get decisions right: 

All that happens is you get a chain of regress back to a previous decision and people moaning about how 'that throw in 30 seconds before was never a throw' - which is even more boring than people moaning about a penalty. 

B) There's a lot of money riding on football these days

This, you stupid fucking square eyed morons, is precisely the problem. Football should be FUN. It should be a GAME! Not some kind of Frankenstein's monster constructed from business values, soap opera and a bit of kicking a ball about. 

We've managed for 131 years to cope without having to stop the game for 45 seconds to decide stuff. 

I don't mind people being paid to play football or people putting money into football but when we get to the point where the very highest pleasure in the game is compromised in case one of the monetary interests is in someway compromised by human error, then I think we've really lost sight of what football actually is. 

'Some people are on the pitch, they think it's all over... It is now! (Or, at least it will be in about 90 seconds after we've analysed it all from every possible perspective)' 

How many great moments in football history would be ruled out by VAR? 

How many kids who fell in love with the breathless tumbling moment of pure chaos after a goal would not have been hooked had that moment been reduced in intensity to a cautious applause and then studious waiting and appraising what went before? 

C) It really should be used in big games because big games matter! 

I have no words to describe the mentality of someone who thinks that the bigger the TV audience, the more important the game. 

In fact, I'd like to see the reopening of Stalin's re-education camps, which would serve to re-educate these subhuman specimens until they are fit to be returned to society. I'd say a minimum of 10 years would be fair. 

You might think this is harsh, but the sort of person who believes that Chelsea vs PSV Eindhoven matters fundamentally more than say, the Dundee derby, Blackpool vs Bolton or a clash between two sides at the bottom of league 2 is not the kind of person I think should be walking freely in the world. 

In fact, for the biggest teams, the least actually rides on the outcome. Lose a Champions League final or a Premier League decider and chances are you'll be there or thereabout next year. 

This is simply mathematically true. Look at the evidence and it's indisputable. 

If you drop out the league, or lose the Conference North playoffs or whatever, then there's much less guarantee that you'll have another shot at it. The finances of smaller teams are far more precarious and if you stopped and actually thought about it for a second, instead of just spouting the lines you've heard on the radio, you'd realise there's a far greater case for the 'smaller' games mattering more. 

D) We have the technology, we should use it. 

An argument that was used to justify Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

It's also commonly assumed that having tried dropping nuclear bombs, the results were, by most sensible measures 'a bit shit' and thus despite having the technology still, generally speaking, most people think it's better not to use it. 

Stretching the metaphor further, whilst nuclear bombs do look cool on telly, if you're actually there when they go off, it's not great. 

In the last two games I've attended I've seen I've seen a penalty given against us that very possibly wasn't a penalty, I've seen a stonewall penalty for us not given and seen a goal ruled out for us that very possibly was a goal. 

So what? That's football and sooner or later we'll get a decision our way and tbh, anyone who actually goes to a game knows how sweet an ill gotten goal can be. 


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