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By Sir Hardly Anyone
After the farrago of the recent VAR mess, a Premier League spokesperson said, “Having reviewed all relevant footage of the disallowed Luis Diaz goal during the Tottenham Hotspur FC versus Liverpool FC match on Saturday, and PGMOL’s report into the incident, it is clear that there were not only human errors but systemic weaknesses in the VAR process. We accept PGMOL’s immediate recommendations to ensure that such failures are not repeated in the future.”
Which is a bit worrying really since VAR was introduced in 2019 and thus has been running for over three years with “weaknessess in the VAR process” which no one actually noticed. Except perhaps a few of us supporters, who expressed rather a lot of concerns.
And this in turn raises the point: why has it taken PGMO and their media pals so long to notice?
In fact, by and large the media have been silent on the issue of VAR failings. And as a result PGMO were able to ignore the multiple issues that have been raised with VAR since its introduction – with such comments as are made being put down as fans’ bias in favour of their own team.
Yet despite that silence from PGMO, to their credit, a few in the media have not let the subject go. Take this rant from the Mail in August last year: “VAR’s flaw? It doesn’t sort out clear and obvious errors.”
Or what about Sky Sports commentary which opened “VAR: How it’s supposed to work after weekend of controversy in the Premier League.”
In that Sky report they noted that “PGMOL admitted two VAR-advised decisions were incorrect over the weekend in the Premier League, with goals ruled out for West Ham and Newcastle; errors follow a missed foul on Marc Cucurella during Chelsea’s draw with Tottenham last month.”
That was published over a year ago but calls that were being made for changes were ignored as PGMO imperiously sailed on, secure in the knowledge that although they were ultimately responsible no one would ever blame them because… well, because no one ever does.
Yet the complaints continued (although infrequently noted in the mainstream media). There was however a piece from Global Sports Matters under the headline, “Time to Call VAR What It Is: An Imperfect Second Opinion.” There, the point was made that football came late to the power of technology. Television viewers had been enjoying slow-motion replays since at least the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the 2010s that soccer’s rule-makers finally conceded that, yes, fine, we’ll let the referees look at the pictures as well.”
“Among the changes, the Premier League have revealed that they will add a further layer of checks so, in future, the VAR will double-check it with his assistant. Only then will the decision be relayed to the referee.”
I guess we might say that it was a nice idea, but if it actually was implemented, (which I doubt) it didn’t really help. As a result, recently has jumped on the bandwagon with “VAR is useless! The 10 worst decisions since technology was introduced to Premier League.”
Yet perhaps one of the most interesting commentaries came just over a year ago when Football 365 ran the piece “VAR is not the problem; football has disappeared too far up its own arse”.
Now that article is interesting because it is one of the few that notes that, “The available pool of referees is shrinking,” And of course “VAR has not quelled the levels of controversy surrounding refereeing decisions… If anything, the focus has only intensified…. Because on the other side of that bank of screens is just another group of flawed and fallible human beings.”
What could have then come up at that point was the question, “Is it VAR that is wrong, or is there something wrong with the organisation that runs VAR and the rest of refereeing?” That organisation, of course, being PGMO, or PGMOL as the media now likes to call it, as if the fact that it is a limited company and thus protected by law from the individuals being sued for the company’s errors, was a good thing.
So the great opportunity for a debate to be had about the appropriateness and ability of a secret society (which PGMO is, with its refusal to allow refs to be interviewed, and its failure even to have an open website that tells us what is going on, to run the key element of football) to run refereeing in England. That is the key question behind all of this, and it is the one that the media utterly refuse to debate. And I am not saying they should agree with Untold in accepting that PGMO should be wound up and dismissed as the failure that it is – I am simply saying it would be good if someone in the media would simply ask the question: is PGMO fit for purpose?
As we have so often pointed out here, refereeing is biased in the Premier League as our regular analysis of refereeing results shows. It needs to be sorted out, and there needs to be a proper debate. But PGMO is above everything else a secret society. And sadly no one in the media is yet asking why.
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