Martin Devlin: Video Assistant Referee producing Very Average Results

Radio Sport,
Publish Date
Thursday, 2 May 2019, 1:53PM

Hey technology, you're wrecking a good game mate!

Yet another comp, this time English Premier League football, is succumbing to the sporting scourge called television officiating after confirming the introduction of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) from August this year.

For all the supposed right reasons, TV replays now impinge upon almost every sport we watch. I say "supposed" because with every best intention the use of instant replays, frame by frame slowmos and microscopic examination of on-field instance is all ultimately meant to better the the sport.

Advances in technology are introduced to help ensure that contentious decisions are correctly called. Problem is, because it's technology, we all assume its foolproof.

Problem with that is technology can only provide what it does, i.e. sound & vision, then human beings have to correctly interpret that information - which is where, once again, it all starts to go wrong.

The most glaring recent example of this came in the Champions League semi between Spurs & Man City when an early and very dubious VAR penalty almost cost Spurs the whole tie.

In that instance, despite not a single city player appealing at the time, the Spurs defender was found to have deliberately handled a shot that, in real time, clearly looked like an accidental deflection off his arm.

In real time, it's an absolute nonsense.

But of course when viewed in slowmo with freeze frame at the point of impact, there is pictorial evidence of what could be interpreted as an arm reaching for the ball.

And this is my point.

The game, and this includes league and rugby, is played in real time. Any analysis via television replay should also ONLY be viewed in real time.

And if that doesn't clearly define what did or didn't happen then let those on the field who are closest to the action and paid to officiate decide.

Otherwise the VAR will turn into the TMO  - a noun that became its own adjective. The Video Assistant Referee producing Very Average Results.