The Echo of a Mistake: VAR in the Spotlight Again
Football, in its raw essence, is all about emotions. A single moment can redefine the entire narrative of a match, and for a fan, it can be the difference between elation and devastation. And sometimes, technology – introduced to eliminate errors – finds itself under the scanner.
Webb Opens Up on the Infamous VAR Gaffe
There’s a sense of nostalgia when one recalls the green fields, unadulterated by technology. Yet, as time passed, technology became an integral part of the game. And with it came the Video Assistant Referee or VAR.
Howard Webb, chief refereeing officer of PGMOL, discussed at length the now infamous Liverpool vs Tottenham VAR mistake on TNT Sports’ Match Officials: Mic’d Up. Luis Diaz’s Liverpool goal found itself wrongly shelved due to what Webb describes as a “human error (caused by) loss of concentration”, courtesy of Darren England, the VAR, and Dan Cook, his assistant.
Can the Game’s Laws Adapt to the Digital Age?
The current game’s framework, as outlined by FIFA, offers no solace for such mistakes, even if play has restarted. And that’s the rub. Fans and players alike bemoan the inability to rectify palpable errors. But, are there changes on the horizon?
Webb hinted at just that. “I know that the International FA Board, even before this situation happened, were going to do a full review of the laws of the game relating to the use of VAR,” he said. After seven years of VAR’s existence, Webb believes that there’s room for improvements based on the lived experiences. And PGMOL, he assured, will actively contribute to these reviews.
Behind the Scenes: Soul-searching at PGMOL
Errors, as Webb aptly pointed out, are part and parcel of life. But the gravity of some mistakes means that there’s a pressing need to prevent a recurrence. And it seems there’s a collective introspection happening within the referee community.
“We know that human error can happen in all walks of life and it happened here – one of the things we have to do is put things in place so that should we have a human error, it doesn’t have the sort of impact we saw on this occasion.”
With these words, Webb emphasised the significance of efficient communication within the VAR system. The process should be thorough, with the assistant VAR acting as a safety net. This would ensure that the on-field referees are clear about the final decision.
Football is a living entity, always evolving. And as the game adapts, so too must the laws and technology that govern it. While it’s clear that mistakes were made, there’s hope that with introspection and potential changes, the essence of the beautiful game remains untainted.