VAR is in chaos, but in five years it won’t have anything to do and will be gone



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By Tony Attwood

“With LaLiga in chaos, it’s ‘clear and obvious’ VAR is broken.”  So proclaims ESPN in its headline at what it suggests will be the start of a series on VAR around the world.

That’s quite a statement, but it should be taken in the context of refereeing in Spain which is very different from refereeing in England.

We’ve already noted that the hyper-secrecy of PGMO in its handling of refereeing which is the hallmark of the English league is not something that is commonplace around Europe.   

For where in the Premier League there is absolutely no discussion about the referees’ organisation going on (as we have so often noticed, it doesn’t even have a web site), last week the head of Spain’s refereeing body (CTA) said “no team in the world” puts pressure on referees like Real Madrid.

He also criticised Real Madrid’s TV channel for broadcasting videos highlighting controversial decisions ahead of each match featuring referee Hernandez Hernandez.

Now refereeing is important to perennial league winners’ Real Madrid at the moment because although Barcelona are in a state of financial collapse and thus not providing much of a challenge to Real Madrid, there is, as we have noted before, another kid on the Spanish block.

Indeed you might even recall our little piece on Girona (Two clubs two brothers) in which we made the point that this tiny, relatively unknown club which has taken the Spanish league by storm is owned by … The City Group (who you might recall own Manchester City and lots and lots of other clubs.)

And I think it is fair to say that Real Mad and Barcelona are getting pretty pissed off with them…


Spanish La Liga 2023/24
# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Girona 21 16 4 1 51 25 26 52
2 Real Madrid 20 16 3 1 43 13 30 51
3 Barcelona 20 13 5 2 40 24 16 44


What is interesting however is that the focus in Spain is almost entirely on VAR with ESPN saying, “the relationship between VAR and the game is broken all over the globe. Fans don’t trust referees, while coaches and players don’t understand why decisions have been made. It fuels debate between games, too: if there’s one thing the media loves, it’s a VAR controversy.”

But seemingly not Girona’s rise, and the source of their money!

Now things will be rather interesting next season too for in 2024/25 there will be only one of the top five second divisions in Europe without VAR, and that is… the Championship.  The reason, according to One Football, is that the authorities say it is “too expensive”.  Ah!  Poor England.

For that is for a league that gets bigger crowds and higher incomes than many top divisions in Europe!

But actually the clever point made on behalf of referees across Europe comes with the addition of the point, “One of the major issues across the leagues is about when the VAR gets involved. For some it’s too much, for others not enough — or just in the wrong places. When is something really a “clear and obvious” mistake?”

That almost makes it seem like a tiny technicality, not, as I would suggest is the case in England, a problem with the ultra-secretive organisation that runs refereeing: Professional Game Match Officials Ltd.  An organisation so secretive it refuses to say why it is secretive.   An organisation that allows its members to fly off to Saudi Arabia to referee a match (for which they are paid by the Saudi state) and then fly back to oversee a match involving a club in the English league which is financed by Saudi Arabia.

Now in Spain this debate is heightened because LaLiga publishes the audio of VAR decisions an hour after full-time,  In England PGMO release edited fragments of the audio – with the editing is done of course by PGMO.

But in England we do have the Independent Key Match Incidents Panel on which PGMO have only a 20% representation.  They vote on each major event to see if the ref got it right.  The results after the first 20 league games for last season and this season were…



So the PGMO response to all this is to reduce the number of VAR interventions.  VAR is simply in decline, and at that rate in five years will have nothing to do.

4 Replies to “VAR is in chaos, but in five years it won’t have anything to do and will be gone”

  1. sorry to go off topic but it seems that Klopp will leave Liverpool at the end of the season…

  2. I would not be surprised to find him coach of the Mannschaft soon, after the Euros, as it is faltering and needs a total rebuild.
    The actual coach is already largely under fire.

    This (can) explain that.

  3. Walter

    So watch the media, PGMOL and the FA double down on League title number 20 for Liverpool…

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