The spectacle of a jaw-dropping summer of football is on the verge of kicking off when Turkey locks horns with Italy. With an exciting summer of football forthcoming, the fans would want teams to work hard, sweat it out on the pitch, and finally be crowned Kings of Europe. Although a major conundrum remains around the usage of technology in football. First applied in the 2018 World Cup, VAR helps referees by plucking out incidents that go unnoticed by a human eye. Euro 2020 is set to become the 2nd international tournament under the scanner of VAR and dubious decisions could see it scrapped altogether.
But will the instillment of technology guide the fans to a newer experience or will we once again witness questionable decisions being taken on the pitch?
IT’S REWIND TIME
The much-talked-about technology, VAR came to existence just a few seasons back. At first, the prevailing attitude was that the emerging technology deployment was beneficial. In retrospect, the use of technology in the sporting world was introduced to eliminate significant officiating blunders that may have altered the outcome of high-profile games.
"VARs will make football fairer, and more honest"
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) March 18, 2018
And after numerous debates and fights, the technology made its debut in Russia. According to protocol, FIFA announced the instalment of VAR to eradicate mistakes in such a major tournament. Unfortunately, the newest form of refereeing didn’t produce fantastic results.
The 2014 World Cup in South America witnessed just 13 penalty calls whereas the number increased to an unimaginable 29 in Russia. In total, the technology-assisted in overturning almost 17 of the 20 incorrect judgements made throughout the World Cup campaign in Russia. A close call against Gabriel Jesus meant the South American were knocked out by the Red Devils ending the formers World Cup dreams.
4 – Brazil have now been eliminated by a European nation in each of the last four editions of the World Cup (France 2006, Netherlands 2010, Germany 2014 and Belgium 2018). Exit.#WorldCup #BraBel #Bra #Bel pic.twitter.com/cSAzbQX1q8
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 6, 2018
These figures indicate that FIFA has made progress, but the federation still has a few problems to fix. With the TV official finding a mistake, realising about it, and then conveying it to the official, he should be given more independence in judgement rather than laying it all on that one man.
OOPS! WRONG DECISION
In Russia, the opening encounter between eventual champions France and Australia sparked the first of many controversies. Barcelona’s talismanic striker, Antoinne Griezmann wasn’t fouled according to the official in the match but after minutes of consultation, he overturned his decision. Though the verdict relieved the Les Bleus’ fans, the pundits believed that the penalty could have been avoided and it wasn’t the most obvious decision.
The fact opinion is divided on the Griezmann VAR penalty decision suggests that even if it probably was a penalty the decision should not have been changed.
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) June 16, 2018
VAR could have halted Portugal’s World Cup journey way before. Cristiano Ronaldo, the fulcrum of Portugal’s attack, unfortunately, failed to convert a penalty against Iran in their group stage match. And his visible frustration was lashed on an Iranian when the Portuguese took a wild shot at his rival.
— The Field (@thefield_in) June 25, 2018
A perfect opportunity for the referee to draw out a red card? Well, Ronaldo escaped narrowly as he was only shown the yellow card. To add to his problems, Portugal gave away a penalty in the dying minutes of the game. Another contested decision as the army in red protested but the referee wasn’t interested. Another one of VAR’s bad decisions.
These are just two examples out of the numerous blunders VAR has produced. An outrageous offside call, a red-card worthy challenge deemed fair, and repeated mistakes are what VAR has brought to the table and Euro 2020 might be the last chance for the technology before changes are introduced.
THE EUROS TO LOOK FORWARD TO
The rescheduled Euro 2020 is what every football fan has been waiting for. From Fantastic France to Spectacular Spain, the clash of the titans awaits. And the excitement of the summer carnival should not be spoiled by technology.
The debacle around VAR will take a new turn this summer, cause though the technology has its own set of advantages it’s spoiling football’s quality. Unfortunate errors and VAR could be under the scanner and the Euros might turn out to be the technologies last appearance on the international stage.
Tons of minutes are wasted in coming to a decision that isn’t completely added to stoppage time. A matchup between Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Danish club FC Midtjylland saw 9 minutes being added because of constant controversies.
VAR’S stop-and-play theory hampers the flow of the game resulting in the unusual change of momentum. A team winning 2-0 would want the game to flow freely whereas their opposite numbers would want to slow down the pace of the game.
With all said and done, VAR’s performance report hasn’t been exceptional. Along with a very good handball call comes two or three wasteful decisions. All this could hint at VAR’s exclusion but the technology still has an opportunity to redeem itself. A world-class performance throughout the European summer and all the haters of the decision-making system will be silenced perfectly.
Euro 2020 is inching closer and if VAR is not up to mark it could be shown the exit door. Minimal intervention by VAR, as and when required, could help form the perfect football match.
The footballing entities should sit together and decide whether the technology is useful or not and if work can be done without it. A 90th-minute confusing handball call can be adjudged by VAR but if every offside is looked into, it’ll waste large amounts of time spoiling the game of football.