Sunday May 13 2018
The verdict on VAR

After a season of the new technology in Serie A, controversy might not have been reduced, but errors and doubters certainly have, writes Daryl Hammond.

The most recent Derby d’Italia between Juventus and Inter was a gleaming endorsement for Serie A. It showcased its goals, its drama, but also opened a window into the strength and foibles of Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR), as its use saw goals disallowed and players sent off.

Napoli President Aurelio de Laurentiis says VAR stinks, while Juventus Chief Andrea Agnelli says he wants to see it in the Champions League. But with the controversial technology set to make its debut at the Russia World Cup this summer, no doubt it is the future, no matter the opinion in Italy.

Like anything, the technology can be improved, but often its application causes issues, which is why it’s efficacy and popularity varies in different countries. For many in England, its sporadic use in the historic and coveted FA Cup has been haphazard at best. Staunch naysayers on the new technology were somewhat vindicated after an error-strewn and perplexing 90 minutes of football in the FA Cup between Tottenham and Rochdale.

In a match between Bundesliga sides Mainz and Freiburg, a handball decision was awarded retroactively, but only after the players had already gone down the tunnel for half time. They were all hauled back to the pitch for the resulting penalty to be taken.

VAR is only as good as those who use it, and whether Italian referees are the best in Europe is up for debate, but no doubt they have taken to the technology quicker than most.

Out of 1,736 checks in 346 games and 105 corrections there were only 17 errors, of which only eight affected the result. Without VAR the likelihood or errors increases 500%.

Marcello Nicchi, head of the Italian referees, says Italy are leading the way with the technology and he is right. That wasn’t always the case, though.

As early as Week 2, referees thought they had done well to spot the foul by Daniele Rugani on Andrey Galabinov in the box in a match between Genoa and Juventus, but failed to spot that Galabinov was offside, handing the home side an unwarranted spot kick.

Roberto Donadoni says VAR punishes the smaller teams, but many have said the same of refereeing decisions for years.

The team with biggest chip on their shoulder about it is Lazio. A three-game spell against Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Torino saw penalties, handballs and red card decisions go against them. Some of their appeals were not even given the courtesy of a video review.

President Claudio Lotito saw what he viewed as poor decisions as part of a larger conspiracy against Lazio as a football club. He threatened to pull them out of Serie A, with fans protesting the technology and its decisions outside the Italian FA’s headquarters and players voicing their anger on social media.

The ability to review events moments after they happen brings more scrutiny. Referees are expected to make the right call after reviews. Players do complain slightly less than before, which means very little time is added on, cancelling out one of VAR’s main faults. Review times have been slashed, as have the number of fouls, yellow cards and dives. Like it or not, VAR works.

It is not perfect by any means. Some still complain about VAR sucking the thrill and emotion from football and that might not change for a while. More decisions can perhaps be left to officials with screens instead of the referee having to trudge to the side-line too often.

Fans in the stadium should be able to see what the referee sees to avoid confusion, like in Rugby, and that is planned for the 2018 World Cup. After all, many of them can just look at their phones to see the images within moments anyway.

But all the naysayers in Italy only have to look around to see things could be worse. And for a technology in its infancy that is still befuddling to many, that is a step in the right direction.

Have your say...
I like the VAR, it makes sense. The only advice would be to make it quicker but other than that it is excellent. Let's put it this way, Lampard's goal against Germany would have stood and England's goal with Geoff Hurst against West Germany wouldn't have.
on the 17th May, 2018 at 12:18pm
VAR works, just those working it might not want to use it. Make rules. Give each team, directed by their captain and coach, one opportunity per half to question a call/result and use VAR to validate it. Then everyone can stop complaining that they were robbed because they'd have that one opportunity which they inevitably accuse of being the one that robbed them to call back if the referee does not.
on the 16th May, 2018 at 11:29am
VAR is a helpful tool for the referees, just like the walkie talkie, that no-one has complained about. It is the referees decision how to use the tool, when or not. Try yourself to be running among 22 players who are constantly in the way of your point of view! The VAR is good, but can get even better when the technology allows them to rotate the view, like in FIFA18 or the Intel replays we've seen in La Liga.
on the 15th May, 2018 at 6:09pm
@Fake Celtic fan. 'When you walk through the rain, hold your head up high and dont be afraid'... dont run away now, it is only a song after all!
on the 15th May, 2018 at 10:10am
I wanted this 7th scudetto as much as the 1st one just to prove that winners are always winner even with VAR. Forza Juve!
on the 15th May, 2018 at 10:05am
It was abused by mertens as well anon and he used 2 hands lolol. Next cry baby pls!
on the 14th May, 2018 at 8:49pm
VAR is useless if there aren't specific rules on how it is used. When its use is up to a biased referee, then it is pointless. Inter-Juve proved how it can be abused by a biased referee.
on the 14th May, 2018 at 2:14pm
@ Urban

Why should I care of Celtic, Scotland, and Italy?

I only care of my real team who just lose to Sassuolo.

For us, WC is trash, Serie A is trash, Coppa Italia is trash. There is only one league that exist in this world, which is Champions League. And I never replace my old calendar year 2010. OK???

I hate Rubentus and I've been a loser since 1979. Bye.
on the 14th May, 2018 at 1:06pm
I think there is a general consensus that VAR is positive.
on the 14th May, 2018 at 1:01pm
As a Juve fan I'm delighted that VAR is in place. It has protected us from referees too afraid to make the right call in the first instance e.g. Vecino red, Fiorentina non-penalty, penalty v Lazio. More often than not the correct decisions are being made and that is all supporters want to see.
on the 14th May, 2018 at 12:10pm
VAR on the right tracks.

As I wrote before it'd be better if the teams captain could call for its use a maximum of 3 times per match.
on the 14th May, 2018 at 10:13am
Hey fake Celtic fan! did you enjoy winning the Scottish league yesterday? I remember when Scotland and Italy qualified for the World Cup regularly, now all opposition have been hindered by regulations and off field matters so 1 team 'wins' every year and no more WC qualification for Scotland or Italy.
on the 14th May, 2018 at 5:39am
VAR robbed inter of the Scudetto. It is all Rubentus' fault because the Agnelli family owns Fiat! We need another calciopoli to return to greatness. Bring back Moratti.
on the 14th May, 2018 at 2:44am
I think for it to work we need to have a VAR on VAR so if they make a mistake we can we can review the VAR review. I want VAR be succesful. Speed it up and make it transparent and accurate. For certain type of fans it will never be succesful as they just won't accept it when their team loses even if they deserve to.
on the 13th May, 2018 at 3:32pm
There was a major technical failure in the A-League final which saw the winning goal come from an offside position. This exposed a flaw in the global protocols for video reviews and underlined the glaring need for a "back-up system" in case of technological glitches. VAR regulations state that where there is no clear evidence to the contrary, the on-field decision stands. In this case, with VAR not functioning due to a software glitch, there was technically no evidence to overrule the goal.
on the 13th May, 2018 at 12:45pm
@ Castello. Managers challenging is the natural way VAR will develop I think. 3 per game if required is fair. I guess some coaches would use the 3 challenges as a way of stopping the game when they are under pressure. I would like to see the VAR advising referees when injuries are being feigned also.
on the 13th May, 2018 at 11:02am
Ruined football.
on the 13th May, 2018 at 10:59am
I hate Rubentus because they keep winning with or without VAR!!!

Before the season is started, we used to say to Rube fans, "With this VAR on, You will NEVER WIN AGAIN!"

But we're wrong...

I am so sad and devastated.

Now, I don't know what to say anymore. The real team which i fully support couldn't even win to Sassuolo! Is this another goodbye to Champions League??? 7 years without CL??? Really??!!

What should I do? Help.. I've been a loser since 1979.
on the 13th May, 2018 at 10:53am
I think overall it has been a success. At the start of the season the ref's seemed to use it for every call and often missed calls e.g. penalty against Juve v Genoa that was offside. Then for a few weeks the refs seemed to barely use VAR e.g. clear handball by Mertens v Crotone. Now it seems to be used at the right level, but still think it would benefit from managers being able to request use of VAR throughout the game e.g. a challenge system.
on the 13th May, 2018 at 10:11am
some patience is needed with this system it is not infallible but it is another resource for referees to use to make decision. It is absurd that people are upset that it getting the correct decision because it goes against their team. Why should a team benefit from getting a illegal goal or tackle?

it does to a degree take the refree discretion away which is it flaw. At the same time what do you expect if you keep making referee decision the massive issue.
on the 13th May, 2018 at 9:38am
It is simple - it works if the users actually want to look at the incident. It is not VAR's fault if they do not.
on the 13th May, 2018 at 8:27am

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