After the incident in Portugal’s game against Switzerland last night, we take a look at the implications VAR may have on Villa fans next season.
Words by Alan Wilson | @VILLAlan54
Setting aside Cristiano Ronaldo’s remarkable hat-trick that saw his Portugal team book their place in Sunday’s Nation League Final, an unprecedented incident involving the Video Assistant Referee grabbed a number of headlines and set tongues wagging across the world of football last night.
With Portugal leading 1-0 via Ronaldo’s first half strike, the Swiss appealed for a penalty in the 53rd minute when Nelson Semedo appeared to put an innocuous challenge in on Steven Zuber inside the area.
German referee Felix Bryce waved away Swiss appeals and the play moved to the other end of the pitch where, mere seconds later, Fabian Schär upended Portugal’s Bernardo in the area, in a certain penalty kick offence. The Swiss surrounded Bryce, protesting that he must look at the VAR screen in order to review their own penalty appeal just seconds before.
What followed were bewildering scenes whereby the referee proceeded to march to the half-way line, stand in front of the Video Assistant Referee screen, raising a single finger in the air as he reviewed a penalty appeal. Bryce then turned on his heels, and to the anger and disbelief of the Portugal players, officials and fans, pointed to the spot in the direction that Switzerland were attacking.
Bryce had created a “VAR Time Tunnel”, as we’ll coin it, by pausing the game and rewinding it to a previous incident that had already passed and should have been checked earlier on.
Whether you’re a lover or a hater of the Video Assistant Referee in football, get ready, because the Premier League has announced its introduction to every stadium and fixture in the upcoming season.
In fact, the Premier League has created graphics to be displayed on giant screens to explain any VAR related delay to a match, and any overturned decision. If VAR believes there is a definitive video clip which helps to explain an overturned decision, it will be broadcast on giant screens.
They are also investigating the possibility of a handheld app on mobile devices where messages and video clips can be viewed whilst at the game.
Currently, only Liverpool and Manchester United do not have large, visible screens in their stadiums, so Anfield and Old Trafford will receive their VAR communications through PA announcements and on scoreboards.
Football has been popular because of its nature as a fast-paced, exciting and at times spontaneous sport, and has often been littered by mistakes from players, referees and assistants alike, and that’s what has made it interesting. At times, VAR has done the same.
It’s unlikely that a referee is going to want to make himself look incompetent at his job multiple times in the same game, so the threat of bias still remains.
It’s certainly going to be an interesting season at Villa Park, and we’ll see whether the Video Assistant referee falls our way more often than not across our first season back in the Premier League.