On Saturday night Liverpool faced West Brom in the 4th round of the FA Cup. West Brom came out on top beating the Reds by 3 goals to 2. But what stole the show that night was the amount of times the referee had to turn to the VAR system to help him make a decision.
The first incident was for the visitors 3rd goal which was disallowed after a corner was floated into the box, Dawson headed the ball into the back of the net but the VAR system revealed that Gareth Barry was offside and interfering with the goalkeeper’s line of sight. The second incident was a Liverpool penalty shout after Salah went down in the box, the ref walked off the pitch to look at a monitor located near the tunnel so that he could see the incident again himself as well as listen to the opinions of those in the VAR studio. I am a season ticket holder and sit in the main stand right on line with the penalty spot at the Anfield Road end and as soon as Salah went down in the box everyone around me, including myself, was shouting for a penalty. Being in the ground and waiting for the referee to emerge from the tunnel again felt like years and a lot of fans around us where starting to get annoyed at the fact that no one knew what was going on so when he did eventually return and gave the decision in our favour you couldn’t help but think in favour of VAR, up stepped Firmino looking for his second in the game but unfortunately he hit the bar and it remained 2-1 to the visitors.
The third time that he had to use the VAR system was for West Brom’s third goal after Dawson picked the ball up in the box and slotted the ball across goal hitting Matip on the way in, everyone around me burst out laughing at the fact that he needed help to make another decision and I couldn’t help but get annoyed at the fact that the game had been stopped for a third time, so if the system is going to continue to be used in the future then the referee is going have to speed up the decisions as it is taking too long and ruining the game especially if it is called upon more than once.
So the real question is, do we actually need VAR in football?
Personally, I am undecided. On one hand I think that it could help football become a fairer game and give referees that extra helping hand during games which is what we saw on Saturday night. However, when it comes down to it isn’t it just another person’s opinion on an incident so is it really necessary to have someone sitting in a studio in London making the decision rather than leaving it to the referee and his assistants to make the crucial decisions and run the game their way. It also makes it worse for football fans because what most fans enjoy is having the debate the following week with other people about whether or not the referee made the right decision but now that VAR has been introduced it leaves no room for debate.
Article by Lauren Black
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