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The Video Assistant Referees are on their way, well in other countries is, but not all….

By Walter Broeckx

After a long period in which I had been unable to write for several reasons I hope to be back in action for Untold Arsenal.

And no better subject to start with as….the VAR.

During the confederations cup the Video Assistant Referee or VAR has been used in each match. And I must say I noticed something strange. Now I must admit I didn’t see all the matches at all. As I was not interested I more accidentally stumbled on to the matches when zapping on my TV.

But when the VAR was used it was mentioned and I looked it up of course. And in the first matches the VAR worked in an excellent way. Helping out referees when things were missed on the field. Like an offside in the build up to a goal from Portugal. And a few other incidents were resolved without much problems.

But then…. after a few successful matches I noticed that it looked as if someone had said to make it go wrong. Now I do admit I am a very suspicious person at times and so it could be just me and my gut feelings but it looked that ….well… some people tried to sabotage the whole thing.

By pure accident I stumbled on to a match (I don’t even know which anymore) and there was a foul in the penalty area that was clear to see my TV in the first replay. A defender stepping on the foot of an attacker. So this should have been a moment where the VAR should have intervened and let the ref on the field know that he missed a clear penalty. Nothing happened.

In another match a clear elbow was not punished although it was clear to see on TV. I think that was in the final? And in that final a few other decisions were not corrected by the VAR.

As I had stumbled upon the Dutch TV channel to watch this match I stayed with them till the end to hear what their opinion was. As you will know if you’ve followed Untold on this subject the Dutch have been one of the frontrunners for the use and implementation of the VAR. And they had very successful trials in the last season.

The guests in the TV studio were baffled by the lack of activity from the VAR. They said that maybe one reason could be that unlike in the Dutch league where all the refs have the same mother language and follow the same set of instructions in the confederations cup the refs come from different countries and backgrounds.

In Holland they have been training the refs for a long time for using the VAR in a correct and consistent way but that isn’t the case for all the countries so far. So it might be down to language barriers or not being used enough to use it or being too much a coward for correcting a colleague on the field.

The opinion on the TV studio was that at least the ref on the field and the VAR should be from the same country to make sure that there would be a consistency in the way the match was refereed. I completely back this point of view by the way.

So was it just a case of growing pains? Or a deliberate move to sabotage the VAR and to keep the power with the ref on the field? Who knows….. I only know that after a successful start by the end it didn’t work as it should have worked.

But despite this the VAR will carry on and will make its way in to modern football.

So today we got more information on how the VAR will work in Belgium. Some 10 years after one top referee in Belgium laughed away the idea of using a VAR system, it is there.

Now the Belgium league is a poor man’s league compared to the PL.   So they have to keep an eye on the budget side of things. The cost for one VAR studio (a van with 7 different TV screens in) is €500.000. Or  £439.700.

For the PL with their billion TV contract it would be peanuts to get 10 of those vans and put them in each stadium for each match. At the cost of one tenth of a half decent right back.

But in Belgium they don’t have billions from TV contracts so they have to build it slowly. And so they have bought one such van complete with the whole VAR system in it. As I said it has 7 TV screens in it and is operated by 3 people. A referee and an assistant and an operator. The operator is a TV technician who can edit images and go forward, go back, slow down, enlarge…. And then it is up to the referee and his assistant in the van to correct a decision.

Now in Belgium we have 8 matches in each weekend and…only 1 VAR-van. So you will know that it is impossible to do all the matches. But then the Belgian FA has made sure that nobody should feel bad about it and all the teams would be treated in the same way.

So they have ordered that each first division team will have 6 matches under the supervision of the VAR. 3 matches at home and 3 away. So no team will feel hard done by even if things go against them as it could happen with the VAR system of course.

So all teams will be treated in the same way. Keeping in mind home and away matches. And that is what we at Untold Arsenal have been asking for years now about referees in the PL. We have been asking that each team gets each referee for a maximum of 2 matches, one at home and one away.  Doesn’t it look silly that a country like Belgium thinks of such a system when it comes to refereeing but a big league with lots of money like the PL messes up with their refereeing so that in some years some refs can have an impact of more than 18 points in one season….

But that is another discussion of course. The VAR will start from next week in Belgium when the Super Cup is played. Players have been warned: we are watching you!

8 comments to The Video Assistant Referees are on their way, well in other countries is, but not all….

  • GoingGoingGooner

    The next obvious step is to make the deliberations between the Ref and the VAR public after each match.

  • Nitram

    Walter

    You say you are suspicious. Seeing what we see in the PL on a day to day basis, I think you have every right to be. I know I am.

    You say:

    “In Holland they have been training the refs for a long time for using the VAR in a correct and consistent way”

    They train the refs on VAR in Holland do they? Cant see them bothering with all that nonsense over here can you? I mean, they’ve not bothered training them on anything else have they, so why this?

    I’m sorry but I see this as being nothing but a disaster, especially for us. All it will mean is any indiscretion of ours the ref does by some miracle miss, will be instantly highlighted to him, and retrospectively dealt with via the VAR system.

    Conversely can you imagine them highlighting anything that should of gone in our favour?

    Yes of course it will work for us once in a blue moon, but by and large it will be just another tool in the referees armoury with which to screw us.

    Yes, suspicious, very suspicious, and some.

    This will just make it even worse for us.

  • Leon

    I’m looking forward to it myself, but can see that errors will occur and of course the conspiracists will completely freak. No system will be absolutely foolproof, but it’s a big step in the right direction.
    I think it’s going to be used in just the FA cup this season and hopefully be fully implemented into the league for 2018/19.
    Give it a chance, it’s what everyone’s been screaming out for.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Goingoinggooner, one step at the time. 🙂
    I must admit when I started campaigning for this (after match 50 I wanted it at all costs) over here I was a lone voice in the dessert.
    NOw it is there…. well in Belgium it is, in Holland, in Germany….

    But yes the video refs should be held accountable for their decisions or non-decisions

  • Welcome back VAR sorry Walter.we have been missing this for ages.I just need the VAR video to analyze one game of the many the 49th unbeaten game and then if any culprit Is found wanted he or she Is still active in football let him Be served the Chinese dish.

  • John L

    Correct me if I am mistaken, but I believe that in other sports (eg Test Match cricket, Wimbledon Final), the use of VAR involves audible / visible exchanges with the umpire / referee. This seems to be the only fair and transparent method of operation, to counter the suspicions that are bound to arise if the whole operation is under the secret control of PGMOL.

  • Menace

    Amazing that there are still Gooners expecting transparency from PGMOL. They will never be transparent while MR50 is at the helm.

  • omgarsenal

    Nitram…..¨Cant see them bothering with all that nonsense over here can you? I mean, they’ve not bothered training them on anything else have they, so why this?¨

    1)EPL officials are well-trained and do know the Laws, they just ignore them. The PIGMOB ensure that a revised set of Laws apply.

    I’m sorry but I see this as being nothing but a disaster, especially for us. All it will mean is any indiscretion of ours the ref does by some miracle miss, will be instantly highlighted to him, and retrospectively dealt with via the VAR system.

    2)It all depends on how they apply this system and which officials are chosen to perform the assessments. PIGMOB devotees will never signal missed fouls and penalties in Arsenal’s favour but will, as you say, signal every tiny opportunity to screw the Arsenal.

    Yes of course it will work for us once in a blue moon, but by and large it will be just another tool in the referees armoury with which to screw us.

    3)We will see whether there is a balancing out, IF we get more favourable penalty and serious foul play calls and better protection, but I’m NOT holding my breath.

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