It’s never a good sign when the referee emerges as a prominent figure in the aftermath of a result and while Craig Pawson can’t be held accountable for a dubious decision in Liverpool‘s FA Cup defeat to West Brom, it’s his use of VAR that’s thrown the whole system into question.
In theory, it ensures a fair contest which should lead to the correct result. The reality however is that VAR comes with its own set of issues, chief among them being the delays that affect a lot more than just the duration of a game.
There were three reviews made in the first half of the match at Anfield itself. Each stoppage disrupted the flow of the game, taking away from its intensity while also mitigating the pendulum effect football matches are prone to when one team hits the back of the net.
Liverpool quickly conceded at the other end after their opener but had their been a delay at the time, emotions may have settled and West Brom’s chance to go level may not have come.
There’s no need for the referee to run over to the pitch-side monitor to review footage already analysed by the VAR. The entire process needs to be fast-tracked. Maybe play on while an incident is under review?
While the TV audience benefits from the clarity and accuracy attached to each ‘big’ decision, the match-going fans in the stadium suffer as the matchday experience continues to deteriorate in the modern era. The confusion in the stands is widespread and hampers the atmosphere inside the stadium.
VAR is not 100-per-cent accurate either, as Chelsea’s Willian would testify after his booking for simulation in a third-round FA Cup replay against Norwich stood despite being reviewed. Some decisions will still come down to perception and should the replays be made available to fans at venues in the future, there’s a danger of violence breaking out.
Football must move with the times and VAR is the way forward, but it still requires extensive work before it can be seamlessly implemented in full. This year’s World Cup is certainly too soon.
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