Mails: Is VAR a ‘shambles’? Is diving a bigger problem?

Date published: Thursday 18th January 2018 9:43

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VAR is a shambles
I’m sure you’ll have plenty of people mailing in about this, but even as a Chelsea fan I am delighted this happened so soon to highlight the very basic fault(s) with VAR, because the sooner it goes, the better.

The Leicester goal last night was allowed, but VAR cannot deal with errors when the play builds up. In the first half, Batshuayi was sent through on goal, and was incorrectly flagged offside. The ref blew his whistle, Chelsea are punished by an incorrect decision. I can only see it disallowing offside goals in general because when the flag goes up the ref will blow his whistle. That’s a pretty major flaw right there.

However, it is nothing compared to what we saw later on. The decision to book Willian was absurd, and the arrogance/incompetence not to review it astonishing. If it’s not going to be used for that, then what’s the point? The ultimate underlying problem with VAR, and why it cannot work, is that fouls are subjective and reliant on the opinion of the referee. The VAR only adds in another referee with a subjective opinion who will often get it wrong, as tonight proved.

The Morata decision was a ref doubling down on an incorrect decision. Refs tend to be quite petty, self-important and arrogant, so can you envisage a ref admitting he got it wrong to book him, then incorrectly doubled down on it by sending him off for dissent before even reviewing it? What if it was reviewed, that’s going to totally undermine his authority going forward (another problem with VAR), as he messed up twice.

The fact that FIFA are in favour of it is usually a good indicator that something is a bad idea. Use the technology for goal decisions, where it is in real time, a matter of fact, not opinion, and works brilliantly. Use it for offsides if it can be done without replays – through real time ProZone monitoring or similar. But for the rest of the game, it won’t solve anything, and will just delay the game and waste time.
Tom Birkert, London


…So the referee decides whether he wants to use VAR? The commentators were guessing that someone was reviewing and feeding referee inputs about decisions made 30 seconds earlier when the play was already in opposition half.

So hypothetically if a penalty is decided after 30 seconds, will we stop the play and go back to the spot? It sounds ridiculous, remains to be seen how ridiculous…when it happens.

The match commentators said they didn’t feel any of the incidents were a penalty, half-time panel decided that Willian incident was a penalty and while Morata incident was not a penalty it was probably not a bookable offense. But said the VAR referee may have side with on field referee as he has clear view. I was left shaking my head thinking why won’t VAR overturn referee decision if it’s incorrect…irrespective of on-field referee’s view.

In all, despite VAR all the decisions continues to be contentious. It also brought out new cricket style appeals by players to refer to video assistant which the referee ignored for reasons best known to him.

At this point even with VAR there is nothing clear cut, and every decision seems to add to confusion and speculation on what’s happening in the ear piece of referee.

Even if all decisions correct or wrong went against us, I would have preferred if it were made without VAR giving it a finality. Also it would allow me to give referee a benefit of doubt, in this case I am fuming along with rest of my team.
B CfC (Do commentators really know more than us on VAR?)


VAR is good, actually
Alan Shearer gave a very Alan Shearer punditry response to the Willian VAR incident last night. No depth of analysis, just one word ‘shambles’. Okay, he thought it was a nailed-on penalty, as did many others, but there was a degree of doubt if you felt Willian was already going down. But in my mind, VAR gave the officials a chance to correct their decision with the VAR official deciding that they would stick with the call on the field. That’s the thing VAR does – it gives the officials ‘a chance’ to correct a wrong. With no VAR last night there would have been no chance to overturn that decision. It also didn’t hold up play in any way while they reviewed the replays – another thing people typically like to bash VAR over.

The other thing that has grated me since English football has started to trial the technology in recent weeks is that many are acting as if we’re the first to ever try it. Clearly, we’re not. The A-League in Australia is just one example – a league that has had VAR in place for a while and from the games I’ve seen it works very efficiently. English football could actually learn a thing or two about how swiftly and effortlessly they show that a decision is under VAR review while the game carries on – a red box appears in the corner of the screen next to the score.

I’m a fan of VAR and welcome its introduction. I never wanted technology brought into football, even for goal line decisions, until the Pedro Mendes goal at Old Trafford. As a Spurs fan, when that happened, I didn’t want to enjoy ‘debate down the pub’ as to how we we were robbed. I simply wanted the goal to have stood and for us to have won for the first time at Old Trafford in 15 years, rather than draw 0-0.
Simon Tostevin, Guernsey


Anything that makes the PFMs angry is fine by me…
I have to say firstly that I am not in a position to offer my opinion on the VAR system, mainly because I haven’t paid any attention to it due to not having enough time care. However I am fascinated in watching a series of PFM pundits losing their heads over it’s first contentious decision last night. “You’ve seen now why I was so doubtful because now it is a shambles,” cried Alan Shearer, “shambles” he repeats again. ‘The Dictionary’ (the one on Google) defines shambles as ‘a state of total disorder’. “It’s a shocking decision,” lambasted Dion Dublin (Is he a PFM? He headers the ball like one, but he does present Homes Under the Hammer) Again, I’m not here to talk about the incident or VAR, I’d rather talk about football. I just want to point out I enjoy watching certain individuals get infuriated over it and try and verbalise their pure anger without swearing. It’s a similar thrill to watching a group of three middle aged men getting incensed at Marco Silva gaining employment in our country at midday on a Saturday.

Anyhoo, the omly reason I wrote in was just so I could save this gem from rising TV star Phil Neville for the end, “I’m confused. I am not a fan. I like the English game as it is, with talking points,” he says, completely unaware of the irony, or anything.

Keep it up!
Tariq, LFC (Seriously, reading Martin Samuel froth at the mouth over a double page spread tomorrow would be like watching porn for me)


Players will dive if fouls are ignored…
Having sat in the West Lower for 140 minutes at the Bridge last night, I think my fury at the ref/VAR is spent. So a quick word on the other issue – players ‘earning’ or ‘exaggerating’ contact (as supposedly Willian and Morata did). Several times last night those two, plus Hazard and others, were clearly fouled (held, impeded, kicked) and tried to play on. The ref neither blew nor signalled an advantage. I entirely understand that refs are human (last night all too human), and can’t see it all, but as long as that’s the case players will feel the need to ‘highlight’ to the ref what he may not have seen. It shouldn’t be necessary, but it isn’t diving.

Also quick praise for curly-haired legend David Luiz, who took losing his place with professionalism, and has hopefully regained it after last night. Those penalties are insane as well.
Sam, CFC SW6
P.S. Just to be clear, we were awful and Norwich pretty good. Shouldn’t need penalties during or after 120 minutes to win that game.


Rules are rules
In an effort to try and put this one to bed quickly, from the FA rulebook, a player will receive a yellow If:

attempts to deceive the referee e.g. by feigning injury or pretending to have been fouled (simulation)

If anyone thinks that any of the three dives last night in no way tried to deceive the referee, you must be an angry Chelsea fan. This has nothing to do with VAR and everything to do with breaking the laws of game
Rob A (loved the second yellow for Morata, finally a ref with balls) AFC


Chelsea thoughts
A few thoughts on the game last night.

Well played Norwich. Great team performance.

Willian should have had a penalty and VAR failed him however if we are going to have a team willing to dive at any opportunity to con the red, you can’t blame him for thinking it’s another simulation. Diving is cheating. Just stop it please.

Luiz looked like he was always liable for mistake. Totally switched off for the Norwich equaliser. Did nothing to show he’s worth the risk for a recall.

Ampadu looks a real talent. Good skills and decision making for a 17-year-old.

Having made plenty of changes from the weekends game this was a chance for those on the fringes to prove their ability. Kenedy, Ampadu and Big Willy showed they have more to offer but pretty disappointing outside of them.

A win is a win but there are clearly problems at Chelsea and we seem to have slipped into the same football we played when Jose came back after the Tottenham defeat. Doing enough but no killer instinct. Fine when defending a lead at the top but Chelsea are now in a bun fight for top 4 and we need to rediscover the fast paced attacking football that delivered last season.

Conte doing his best impersonation of being on Give Us A Clue with his TV charades every week is going to wear thin very quickly.

Not totally sure what the question is but Andy Carroll is not the answer.
Matt (win or lose up the Blues) Barlow


Neutral thoughts on Chelsea v Norwich
As a neutral, I found Chelsea v Norwich City quite absorbing to watch. Not a great deal happened for long periods, but it always felt like something might happen.

* For all the grief there will be over VAR and the decisions of Graham Scott, it’s worth pointing out that he got both red card decisions absolutely spot on. Pedro’s foul was the more obvious second yellow, but Alvaro Morata should have kept his composure. That he didn’t meant Scott was within his rights to show him yellow card twice and end his involvement in proceedings. More referees should be prepared to take players’ names for dissent so the message gets through that it shouldn’t be tolerated.

* City gave a very good account of themselves. Jamal Lewis, who I remember setting all manner of NFL rushing records for the Baltimore Ravens, was very impressive. He played well in attack and deserved his goal, but his tracking back late in the game also caught the eye. James Maddison, who was the fourth president of the USA, also looked quite useful, and it was no surprise when the commentary team mentioned several Premier League clubs were looking at him.

Ultimately, they were unfortunate to lose, but that’s only because football is by its very nature unfair. Nonetheless they did a fantastic job of keeping some superb Chelsea players very quiet. There’s an amusing irony that Chelsea won on kicks from the penalty mark, having spent most of the game attempting to win a penalty and failing miserably at it.

* I am generally opposed to VAR, largely because I don’t watch QI in order to learn things I can subsequently use to correct people in conversations with an “actually, I think you’ll find…”. Last night was the first time I’d seen it in action in real time, and I can see where it will help, but also where it will infuriate. The sight of players putting the square in the air and insisting the referee go to the VAR for every call that doesn’t go their way is already incredibly tiresome. Then there’s the Willian call. This was football’s version of Umpire’s Call in cricket, whereby a decision may not be right but is within an acceptable margin of error.

The first time I saw it, I thought it looked like he had tried to win a penalty, something that is just a part of modern football; I thought play on would have been the correct decision. When I saw the slow motion replay, it could be argued that Willian is starting to fall before he and the defender make contact, which is probably why the referee saw it as simulation, and also why the VAR didn’t see it as a massive error.

* Morata’s dive was another of those that could have gone either way. There was contact from a defender, which wasn’t out of the ordinary, but it also looked from the replays that Morata was trying to win a penalty rather than attempting to play the ball. Also, having seen two of his teammates booked for simulation with varying degrees of harshness, why was he surprised or upset that he suffered the same fate?
Ed Quoththeraven


The catch with Aubameyang
I think the prospect of signing Aubameyang is really exciting. However the missing catch seems to be how he fits in. Will Wenger go with two up front? Will Lacazette be dropped? Will (The most likely) both be somehow played out of position? Say he were to join he surely will be an automatic starter, but shouldn’t our current record signing be also? If we are to play both up front with Ozil behind that could work. But what then if we sign Mkhitaryan? Where does he fit in? (Unless he is to replace Ozil) How about Malcom? These three aren’t massively similar players, do we want all of them or just any of them?

This feels like we are going after anyone high profile to replace Sanchez, which is understandable. It really would be a statement signing. However it is not what we need. Our midfield is far and away our weakest area and two of our three best are incredibly injury prone. Why are we not looking to strengthen here? Why is there no real strategy? Aspecially when we have known we need to replace Sanchez for so long.

If we do sign two or three of these players the positive is that it gives us some great options and will likely breathe life into what is becoming a terrible season. They could even all work out to be great signings and part of a Wenger master plan. I, however, do not see it.
Dave (Great to be linked with good players, but can they not have simpler names?) Windsor


An excellent question
I’ve been away since before the season started, and I’m just trying to catch up. Given the hyperbole and seemingly incessant blanket coverage of a one goal home victory by Liverpool over Manchester City at the weekend, would I be correct in thinking that the win takes Liverpool 15 points clear of City at the top of the table?

Thank you in advance
John, Manchester

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