One year ago next week I wrote this. The piece tries to explain where the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) can be usefully deployed in football, and where it cannot.
It's fair to say, the response to VAR has been mixed. It is very much debatable where the benefits of the system outweigh the (often) unintended consequences of using the technology. My original piece explains that in certain instances in football, video technology can help referees make better decisions. However, in some cases it is unhelpful. The crux of the issue is whether the rule of law is being interpreted objectively or subjectively.
Tottenham vs Manchester City last night provides two perfect examples.
VAR 1: Danny Rose's "handball".
IFAB Laws of the Game state that handling the ball involves "a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm. The following must be considered: • the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand) • the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball) • the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an offence." Deciding whether or not Danny Rose's action last night was deliberate is purely subjective. Some may argue he made himself bigger. Others may suggest his hands were in a natural position for a defender making a last ditch tackle and that there was a short distance between Rose and Sterling. I don't believe it was a penalty, and more tellingly neither did the Man City players or staff. Not one opponent looked for a penalty.
VAR 2: Heung Son-Min keeps the ball in play.
The question put to the referee is simply did all of the ball cross all of the end-line. This is not subjective. The ball either did or didn't. Here VAR worked perfectly, just like it does in tennis and rugby.
VAR is supposed to eliminate controversy, not cause it. It needs to be dropped in the case of VAR 1 and kept in the case of VAR 2.
Referee's should decide if the ball was deliberately handled. That's what they are there for after all!