The good and bad of the VAR system on display across one...

The good and bad of the VAR system on display across one weekend as England waits


In England, there were cries for the technology to be introduced. While in Germany, a manager was left bemused by the use of the system. But in Spain it came to hand for what it was used for. 

After just several weeks of a new domestic season in Europe, the debate surrounding the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is once again as heated as ever.

During the World Cup in Russia, the technology was relatively well received bar a few teething issues which came at critical times, most notably the final played between France and Russia.

On that night, eventual winners France were on the right hand of a decision which divided fans across the globe – a penalty decision which arguably changed the direction of the match.

But in England over the weekend, there was no doubting a refereeing error would have been overturned had the VAR system been introduced for the 2018-19 season.

In April, a two-thirds majority of Premier League clubs passed on the option to introduce the technology into England’s top-flight instead electing for trials to still be undertaken in selected League Cup and FA Cup matches.

On the weekend, Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Willy Boly opened the scoring for his side against champions Manchester City, after he handled the ball into the back of his own net.

Replays following the goal clearly showed the ball had missed Boly’s head before striking his hand thus giving his side the lead.

When questioned about the incident following the match, City boss Pep Guardiola told Sky Sports: “It’s not my business, the Premier League will decide when the VAR will be here.”

This incident alone showcased why the technology is required, as the 1-all draw could make a difference in City’s title quest.

But in Germany, things were different again – where the technology was introduced prior to last season.

In Bayern Munich’s opening day victory over Hoffenheim, the defending Bundesliga champions were awarded a controversial penalty after Franck Ribery was adjudged to have been brought down inside the 18-yard box.

Once again replays showed a mistake had been made, after it was clear that no contact had been made with the former France international.

Unlike Guardiola, Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann was much harsher in his assessment, demanding there should have been intervention from the VAR to deny Bayern the spot kick.

“Why the buildup to the penalty was not checked is a mystery to me,” Nagelsmann vented.
“Football is a contact sport and if the player is blocked, but there is no contact, then it is not a foul – it’s marginal.

“Where were the video assistants?”

Even more telling was the fact that his Bayern counterpart Niko Kovac agreed with his frustrations.

“I don’t think it was crystal clear – I would not have given it,” he said.
In Spain, Barcelona were thankful the technology was in place after their 1-0 victory over Real Valladolid.
After claiming the lead through Ousmane Dembele, the visitors were lucky to escape with maximum points after Keko was denied an equaliser in injury having been in an offside position.
Luis Suarez was also denied a goal by the VAR, new in Spain this season, as the Catalans claimed their second win of the season.
All three of the mentioned examples showcase reasons both for and against the technology in the game, but with the way things stand it looks more likely than not all leagues across Europe will soon bring the system into place.
As of the 2018-19 season, the Premier League is the only one of Europe’s top five leagues not to have introduced VAR.
With the mistakes still occurring but errors also not being amended the Premier League clubs will have an interesting decision to make when they vote again later this season.