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By Tony Attwood
There have been all sorts of explanations and excuses about why VAR got it wrong in the game between Manchester City and Fulham. Talk of “two pieces of information arriving at the same time,” as if most of us don’t experience that in daily life. What is driving a car and trying to overtake another vehicle about, if not 50 pieces of information arriving at the same time?
Howard Webb’s explanation that, “You have to judge the position of the player and his impact on the game,” was pathetic, not just because life is always about such things, but because it revealed the mind of a man who thinks those of us who watch football are mindless morons who can only think of one thing at a time. “Those thugs in the terraces…,” he is probably how PGMO think of us, forgetting that our terraces were taken away last century.
Yes eventually it was admitted that VAR had got it wrong and that Manuel Akanji was clearly in an offside position and influenced our old chum Bernd Leno, and so Nathan Aké’s goal should have stood.
So why wasn’t that admitted?
Well, primarily because there is no format around in which PGMO can admit things are wrong. They spend their entire time telling anyone who wants to listen (which these days simply means the newspapers and their websites) that everything is fine and they know what’s good for us. English referees are the best in the world, and we know that because the association of English referees tells us so.
Which is why when we point out how much Premier League referees are influenced by the home crowd, and how the research shows this is the case over and over again, they ignore it.
And so recognising the time had come when more lies are just going to make things worse, Howard Webb said, “The referees did not see the obvious.”
But then what? Howard Webb then has the utter audacity to tell us that this affair will make English refereeing (the best in the world already, so we are told by PGMO and their media chums) grow and be better. “We will learn from this mistake and progress collectively. We have to be better, week after week,” is the claim.
And that is pathetic, because no one is learning about the bias of referees which is revealed week by week in the refereeing statistics. Stuart Attwell 25 Premier League games last season, with 72% of them home wins. Anthony Taylor with 30 Premier League games last season, with 33% of them home wins. The chances of those numbers happening by chance are impossible to calculate unless one takes home and away bias into account.
But if suddenly the word got out that referees could make mistakes – what then? Well, it is argued by those on the inside, that this would be a disaster because players would be even more inclined to question refereeing decisions.
Except no, that doesn’t have to be the case. Supposing appeals were allowed after matches, using video evidence. Thus a club could be allowed to appeal goals for, goals against and red cards after a match.
“That would make things impossible,” comes the cry from one side. “Clubs would appeal everything.”
“That would make no difference,” comes the cry from the other side. “The referees would once again be marking their own homework, and PGMO would never admit to errors.
But supposing, just supposing, appeals were allowed and were heard by a committee that had absolutely no connection with the already discredited PGMO. That committee would have the power to add or remove goals, and thus change results, as well as add or remove red cards.
Arsenal for example would probably have used it to appeal Takehiro Tomiyasu’s red at Palace on the simple grounds that there is nothing in the rule book that allows the referee to add the time taken by one player to take a throw in onto the time taken by another player if the ball is passed to him. If the appeals committee could find such a rule, the sending-off would stand, and Arsenal might be docked a point. If the appeal was found to be valid, the sending-off would be rescinded so Tomiyasu doesn’t have to miss any games, and the ref would be given a red card, meaning a two game suspension. Five red cards in a season and the referee is ordered to stop refereeing and go on a re-training programme.
Then we would see some progress.
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