No more gaffes? Football Technology Is Here.

Nestor Pitana

FIFA Confederation Cup Russia 2017 got off to a wobbly start. This quadrennial football event is usually used as a precursor tournament barely a year before the highly prized World Cup finals is hosted in a particular country.  As such this tournament seeks to assess the host’s readiness and ability in terms of infrastructure, logistics et al to stage football’s ultimate flagship event.

Apart from logistics and other critical elements that are put to the test, we saw in this year’s tournament technology being put through a litmus test as well.  The introduction of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has been a matter of controversy amongst football fans around the globe. What is this VAR?

VAR is an association football assistant referee that reviews decisions made by the head referee with the use of video footage and a headset for communication. VARs are not currently part of the Laws of the Game, but their use is currently being trialled by the International Football Association Board in a number of different competitions. (Source Wikipedia).

Let’s rewind to last night Group B encounter between Portugal and Mexico. In the 21st minute the Portuguese side took a lead through defender Pepe, only for the goal to be disallowed after a contentious video review.  Shortly after the goal was scored, the Argentine referee Nestor Pitana called for a video assisted review, which ultimately ruled that the Real Madrid defender had in fact been in an offside position.

The controversy continued well into the second match which pitted Chile against the African champions Cameroon.

At the stroke of half time Chilean striker Eduardo Vargas thought he had scored his first goal of the tournament, however it wasn’t the case… After some ponderings the goal in question was not given, as ruled offside AGAIN.

Football is a natural sport, which is characterized by critical conversation stemming out of controversial decisions made by the referee. The introduction of video assisted reviews makes it hard for the game to flow naturally. We see stop/start situations that tends to slow down the match flow.  I say NO to video assisted decision making in football this is not cricket or rugby.  We need to engage and dissect these controversial decisions long after regular 90 minute, that’s what football is all about.  YES to goal line technology by all means.

With VAR you can only challenge things that are not given. What about those that are given under dubious manner? New things have been introduced in the game, but this has to be the most controversial decision to be implemented in the modern day football.

Another school of thought might say VAR is good for the game; it will bring back integrity to the sport. At what cost?

As the saying goes “to improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often”….definitely time will take its course as we forge ahead to accept VAR as part of our new football control measures.

A dear friend of mine wrote on Facebook “It’s OK brother we will get used to it….it is more like putting on a condom” Oooops I nearly fell off my sofa…

The Legendary match commentator Peter Drury summed it up with this words: “Well this are new scenarios in world football, we have to embrace it”…

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