WELCOME to the future of football.
Welcome to chaos and confusion, anger and farce.
VAR is going to change the fundamental face of football and have a huge impact on the match-going punter
Welcome to the bastardisation of the world’s most popular sport and the end to any pretence that match- going experience of paying punters is important.
This is what you wanted, VAR fans, and this is what you’re going to get.
Fifteen minutes from the end of Sunday’s Serie A match between SPAL and Fiorentina, with the scores tied at 1-1, Mattia Valoti nets for SPAL.
The crowd celebrate, sensing a much-needed win for their relegation-threatened team, only for festivities to be cut short by the realisation referee Luca Pairetto is Lionel Blairing it up with the old charades sign for a TV screen.
Getty Images – Getty SPAL’s Mattia Valoti celebrates his goal, only to see it ruled out by VAR and a crucial penalty awarded to Fiorentina
This VAR referral is met with incredulity as there cannot possibly be anything wrong with Valoti’s strike — he’s drilled in a low cross cut back from the left wing.
But Pairetto’s been alerted to a possible foul in the other penalty box, 35 seconds earlier, where Fiorentina’s Federico Chiesa has executed a front dive tuck after a challenge from Dias Felipe.
Deliberations ensue for three minutes, ending with Pairetto watching the penalty incident on a small screen by the touchline, deciding there has been contact from Felipe, ruling out SPAL’s goal and awarding a penalty to Fiorentina.Jordan Veretout scores it before his team go on to win 4-1.
OK, so maybe you feel fast-moving drama and spontaneity are not essential to football’s great global popularity, and that this should be sacrificed in the search for ultimate justice.
Yet when you watch the replay, Chiesa clearly leaps in the air to accentuate the contact after he attempted a cut-back which was blocked.
Getty Images – Getty Jordan Veretout converts the controversial penalty to put Fiorentina 2-1 up
By the letter of the law the referee may have got it right but no goalscoring opportunity has been denied and the incident has probably only been spotted because of Chiesa’s exaggeration.
No great wrong has been righted, while a ‘good’ goal has been ruled out by a timelord in a TV truck.
Not that anyone in the stadium would have known because football fans are apparently not trustworthy enough to watch on a big screen what they’ll soon be watching on their phones. So how exactly have we benefited from this mayhem, as the fast-flowing beautiful game is contorted by a remote official?
We look forward to more of the same when VAR arrives in the Premier League next season — as such incidents are not that rare.
Similar situations of good goals being ruled out by a VAR penalty shout at the other end have also occurred in the Dutch top flight and Major League Soccer.
Thibaut Courtois blushes are spared as dubious VAR call saves Real Madrid against Ajax in Champions League
There have also been horrible errors and delays at many Cup matches where VAR has been trialled in England, as well as controversy in the World Cup final.
Those of us who thought things through realised VAR would create farces like Sunday’s nonsense in Italy — a worse scenario than anything the system can solve.Then there’s the secondary fact slow-motion replays can bring a whole new slant to an incident which does not exist in real time.
The TV industry — desperate to become a participant rather than an observer — always regard slo-mo as gospel and will downplay opposition to VAR, presenting its ever-widening use as an inevitability.
Those who oppose it are portrayed as Flat Earthers — but Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo has come out against VAR and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino is a passionate opponent.
Last week saw the roll-out of VAR in the Champions League and the ‘historic’ disallowing of an opening goal for Ajax against Real Madrid due to a contentious offside call.
Getty – Contributor Keeper Thibaut Courtoius celebrates a 2-1 Champions League away win for Real Madrid after he got away with a howler against unlucky hosts Ajax
Again, you can argue the video ref got a fag-paper decision right, but Real keeper Thibaut Courtois was let off for a blunder and a vibrant young Ajax, who were the better side, ended up losing 2-1.
So again, justice of one sort but not another.
In short, though, the crux of this argument is simple: Do you see football, first and foremost, as entertainment or as a matter of life-and-death importance, demanding forensic analysis?
The killjoys are winning that argument — but the more you see of VAR, the more you will hate it.
Resistance isn’t futile, comrades. Rise up and march under this banner.
No Surrender to the VAR.
Heavyweight boxing champ Anthony Joshua has been ‘under the knife’ for a £400 facial
SO a supposed new golden age for heavyweight boxing looks to be in ruins.
That is because the division’s three big beasts — Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury — are unlikely to fight one another for the foreseeable future.
Fury’s £80million deal with Top Rank suggests there will be no rematch with Wilder.
While Anthony Joshua has already severed his links with British fight fans by scrapping a Wembley date to fight unsung chubster Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller at Madison Square Garden in New York on June 1.
PA:Press Association Anthony Joshua will face outsider Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller rather than a top rival
Nothing in all of sport engenders as much excitement as an elite world-title fight, yet no other sport denies the public what it wants more frequently than boxing.
In these situations it is customary to describe the promoters as “sharks”.
Yet how often do you see sharks shooting themselves in the foot?
Crystal Palace 1-1 West Ham: Wilfried Zaha grabs equaliser in vital draw against Hammers
FA GETS SARKY
WILFRIED ZAHA was banned for Crystal Palace’s FA Cup trip to Doncaster because he sarcastically applauded ref Andre Marriner for sending him off against Southampton.
The FA believe this crime merited a second match on the sidelines — a dangerous precedent given that sarcasm is this nation’s lifeblood.
And while Zaha clearly WAS being sarcastic, what if the FA start going after more borderline cases?
Could a player successfully argue that a gesture was actually ironic, rather than sarcastic?
And wouldn’t that then prejudice any American player, who’d be unable to understand such a subtle difference?
This, my friends, is a proper can of worms.
Arsene Wenger admits former club Arsenal have made a mistake in letting Aaron Ramsey join Juventus next season
IT’S ALL GUNN WRONG
LAST June, at a remarkably smug press conference, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis heralded a bright new post-Wenger era at the Emirates.
He unveiled head coach Unai Emery, the man who’d get the best out of star player Mesut Ozil, who had recently been handed a pay rise to £350,000 per week.
EPA Europa League specialist Unai Emery even suffered defeat in that competition against BATE Borisov as his new club Arsenal stutter
Gazidis spoke of a new collaborative management structure, with power shared between he, Emery, director of football Raul Sanllehi and recruitment chief Sven Mislintat.
Eight months later Gazidis is gone, Mislintat is gone, Ozil has wafted away on a stiff breeze and Europa League specialist Emery has lost in the Europa League to BATE Borisov.
Remind us what all that smugness was about, again?
Neil Warnock and Cardiff chief Ken Choo talk at Emiliano Sala funeral in Argentina
DEALS MUST BE TRANSPARENT
CARDIFF CITY’S attempts to wriggle out of paying Nantes their agreed £15million transfer fee for tragic striker Emiliano Sala are macabre and unedifying.
But the spotlight shone on the Sala deal still ought to bring one positive outcome — proper transparency in all transfer deals.
No more ‘undisclosed fees’, no more hidden agents’ costs and no more shady carve-ups.
IT’S TOV LOVE
IN 2008, Dimitar Berbatov refused to play for Tottenham against Sunderland and Chelsea, before he forced through a deadline-day move to Manchester United.
Yet at half-time against Borussia Dortmund last week, the decadent Bulgarian was paraded on the Wembley pitch as a Spurs legend.
Who next . . . ? Sol Campbell?