Articles & Features

Celtic Fans, The Great VAR Scandal Of 2022 Is Upon Us

Image for Celtic Fans, The Great VAR Scandal Of 2022 Is Upon Us

Don’t say that we weren’t warned, because we were. SFA officials have been openly rubbing our faces in the events of today for the last few weeks.

This blog has been steadfast in saying that it supports VAR, but you’ll have noticed the changes in tone in the last couple of pieces on this subject. Ian Maxwell let us know that people were concerned that this would be a car-crash on arrival; as the first major game – no harm to Hibs-St Johnstone – was one involving us at Tynecastle it was not hard to conclude that certain folk realised what today would bring.

Sport, any sport, is only as strong as the rules which bind it and guarantee that everyone treats the contest in the same way. There are echoes here of the Great Sports Day Scandal of 1999, where my friend Kayleigh’s victorious opponent in one game ran with an egg in one hand and a spoon in the other. What matters is not the shameless willingness to bend the rules – which exists and always will – but that there are officials who will permit that cheating to take place.

This, after all, is what we have officials for. It is why sports are refereed in the first place. It is why they start out with an agreed set of rules and then appoint officials whose job it is to make sure that those rules are observed. Even when the umpires are honest, examples of unscrupulous practices abound in every competitive environment.

In football they come in various guises. Almost every major scandal into cheating in the sport has involved corrupt officials, and it has happened in almost every country which takes the game seriously. One country resists the idea that corruption might be commonplace; Scotland. We are the only football nation which never even discusses that it might be.

The events of a 5 minute spell in the second half – where Jenz was not sent off for conceding a penalty whilst being on a yellow and where Heart’s initially scored penalty was re-taken – do not impact or change whatsoever what happened in the first 45 when three tight crucial calls went against us.

I am not arguing with the first, although you could … I am not even arguing with the second although some people will. It could have gone either way and I would have wanted it had it fallen for us. I wonder if Carter Vickers wasn’t a fraction late to the ball.

But the decision we don’t get, the one at the end of the half, which was as obvious a penalty as you’ll ever see, is so blatant and clear to the cameras that not giving it is, to me, the equal of allowing a competitor to do the Egg and Spoon Race in exactly the manner earlier described and pretending everyone follows the same set of rules. When the officials so clearly favour one competitor over the other there is no point in pretending that something isn’t rotten to its core. This does not even pretend to be a double standard … this is officiating by an entirely different set of rules, depending on which team wants the call.

English football makes refs declare allegiances although the game down there is not nearly as febrile and tribalist as this, and the stakes on individual decisions are not usually remotely as high. The game down there nevertheless takes this stuff seriously. Even accounting for that due diligence they have still had their share of corruption allegations.

Many of these have been thoroughly investigated. Many have ended up with people being kicked out of the game forever. They, like other countries, take it seriously enough to investigate allegations and potential problems.

Those who sneer at those countries where bent refs have been identified and prosecuted do so out of ignorance; it’s not, as some would have you believe, that those countries have problems that we don’t … it’s that they will seriously investigate these matters and we point blank refuse to even acknowledge the possibility of them.

This whole mind-set has been summed up by one member of our mainstream media; Hugh Keevins. He has the disgrace of having once said that we do not dare investigate these matters because if we found clear evidence of cheating that the game would be “finished.” As if the cheating itself would not devalue it and discredit all those who won honours whilst it was going on.

That decision today, to deny Celtic a penalty, when the cameras all showed us the same thing, and the VAR cameras must have showed it even more clearly than that, is frankly scandalous. Ange, on the touchline, telegraphed his disgust. Even the most unflappable guy in the business knows that was indefensible. No wonder he would not wholeheartedly endorse VAR yesterday; perhaps that man has been here long enough to sense how that would go.

The credit the team deserves for overcoming those circumstances today is immense. I am thrilled for the players who got their goals as much as anything else; Forrest was unlucky not to start in midweek and showed that today. Giakoumakis proves that he’s Celtic’s best penalty box striker. Taylor scores the winner; how great is that, for Celtic’s most improved player?

And then there was Maeda; what have I been saying about him? He only needed to get his head up again and the goals were going to start coming. He has scored a massively important one for us today and even if it’s not a winner it’s going to be crucial.

That is a classic example of overcoming adversity. And we deserve huge credit for it.

But let’s not kid ourselves; if that was a showcase for VAR it was only to highlight how it might be used for the most corrupt ends. That late first half decision is a scandal, and it should be called a scandal and to call it that would be especially potent on an afternoon where we’ve won the match, and especially where we had to fight uphill for the points.

Share this article


  • Geoff says:

    Leanne Chrichton on Sportsound offered the opinion that Forrest deliberately flicked the ball onto Smiths arm and that’s why it wasn’t given ???

  • Scud Missile says:

    Listen to the Roger Daltrey song Say It Ain’t So Joe and then watch that game again today.

  • Michael McCann says:

    Fully agree James, but what are Celtic going to do about this? Should be shouting from the rooftops and seeking legal advice on this referee group. Not only denied a goal, a penalty kick but every single decision went the way of Hearts. Their manager complained about VAR the laughable thing about it his side got all the benefits from it. Celtic players were magnificent today in the face of naked hatred against them. Everyone of them deserve credit for playing against one of the biggest cheating scandals in Scottish football. I appeal to the Celtic directors stand up for your brave players and back your manager if you don’t Celtic will be losing more than games they could see a fantastic manager willing away from this filthy corruption

  • Stevie Bhoy says:

    VAR aside that was one of the worst refereeing performances in a long time (and there have been many). Watch the game again, every time a Hearts player fell a free kick was awarded and I mean every single time. This stopped any of our high press and reclaiming of the ball whilst Hearts were allowed to kick, push and foul all game. A truly shocking performance.
    I’ve said since it was first mooted that VAR will be a travesty for Celtic in this country, today we saw the start of it.

    • Stephen McAdam says:

      Said the say mhate every time and usually against GG! Pathetic wee bigoted land tho now we can use var to prove it further! Tho there was never any doubt! Ever!

  • Katana67 says:

    Did Michael Stewart Swap Brains with ‘Baldy Boyd for the Weekend….????

    Or, has he been told to toe the line with the ‘Establishment Meedya , otherwise his future in punditry is on the ‘Shoogly-Peg’….

    John Smith Handball / Non-Penalty……

    ” His arms were in a natural position….” Really!!

    Well , we’ve been watching VAR decisions on these incident in the EPL & Europe for the last two years……

    Defenders in the penalty box have been having to hold their arms behind their backs, to avoid giving penalties away, disadvantaging themselves, as this posture affects their balance….

    [ Ask Virgil Van Dyke about it (See Murphy’s Law on Conservation of Angular Momentum)….Ed ]

    To paraphrase Ron (Boo !!) Liddle, on the subject of Women’s Football…

    ” Like Watching Swans with a Broken Leg, Skating on Ice….”

    • Kevan McKeown says:

      Think Michael Stewart tbh is one of the fairest pundits. Have noticed tho, he has a habit of bein biased when it comes tae hearts. No just when we’re playin them either.

  • Iljas Baker says:

    Time to do a really analytical article on how to improve VAR James because it is here to stay. It’s fine to say how it will work against us but let’s see how it can be improved.

    We need transparency and consistency and both are connected.

    Complete conversation between VAR officials (one is not enough) needs to be recorded and made available for later analysis by journos and team officials including Celtic supporters media

    Referee must look at VAR screen for every incident when VAR is used

    Lines for offside calls must be shown etc

  • BJM says:

    For stonewall penalty to Celtic just before Half time,Nick Walsh saying var. S McLean told him his arm/ hand was close to his body.
    Absolute garbage his arm went towards the ball he can not deny this time for an investigation Ito the cheating sfa. And Scottish referees.
    That was one of the most obvious games of cheating you will ever see giakomakis within a yard of hearts player foul to hearts ,as soon as a hearts player fell foul to hearts.
    There’s 100% clear evidence with the the pictures that were supposed to be reviewed the officials were cheating time after time.Take this to court celtic in another country not Scotland.

  • SSMPM says:

    Well Stevie Bhoy, I followed your advice and watched the game again … and again, to be sure. Conclusion – he clearly followed the Madden model of refereeing yesterday. It was so like how he refereed the SC semi last season, breaking the play for every soft challenge Celtic made to prevent momentum whilst allowing the opponents to kick or pull or players back unpunished (eg Lumstruck already on a yellow, Moreorless in a bear hug).
    What seems clear is this is how a number of refs having decided to impact on our game to prevent opportunities whilst our players get hoofed regularly with no foul, only injury.
    Coupled with VAR interpretation some refs have tried hard to find a model that better supports their team and deny us creating opportunities. Both hearts pens were legit so VAR was utilised to work for them as it should have. We are Celtic, the ones that always having sporting integrity, honesty, and sadly quietness when cheated. We shouldn’t have to continually put up with this in silence.
    Blowing the whistle before the ball hits the net is a clever new tactic and rules out the impact of VAR’s clarity of a goal as the whistle stops the play even in hindsight so can’t give the goal. Sleekit. Refs need to declare their allegiances and not ref certain games. SFA needs to be overt. In these days of social media, their lies would soon be found out if declared wrongly.
    We are Celtic Martin H, and “if you know the history”, you wouldn’t promote such utter hun anti Irish pish on this site. Go home to the midden. C’mon a Hoops

  • Phil says:

    Short memories celtic fans.the celtic v hearts 2-0 game at parkhead earlier in the season pre var,celtic players committed more fouls than hearts .decisions no bookings for celtic but 5 bookings and 2 red cards for hearts .stop your whining

    • Michael McCartney says:

      Phil, do you not realise it is how dangerous a tackle is that leads to the foul that decides whether a yellow card or a red card or no card is decided. Yesterday two VAR decisions robbed Celtic of a goal and a penalty kick in a very closely fought game.
      If the decisions had gone the other way I would have loved to have seen the reaction of the Champion moaner in Scottish football who just happens to the Hearts manager Mr Neilson.
      At least Big Ange kept his dignity after two outrageous decisions against his team.

    • Stephen McAdam says:

      That’s nonsense!! No said fouls were obvious bookable ! The 2 diet huns sent off were fully deserved bookable offence, you clown shoe! Is your real name neilson! Muppet! No offence to Kermit and friens there

    • Stephen McAdam says:

      Anyway get off a Celtic blog you fool!! Our Club Celtic being cheated for years fact!! Now beat it!

  • John S says:

    Unless VAR is used in a purely technological way i.e. maths and angles to a degree of precision, then it will only serve as a second option to make/change a decision by specific appointees.

  • Martin says:

    According to the other fans…

    We shouldn’t be moaning because we won. But also…

    If we complain when we lose it’s just sour grapes.

    Either way, be quiet timmy and know your place.

    Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose.

Comments are closed.