The introduction of VAR is coming faster than we thought, and that sounds great in theory but as I’ve already written this week it is still going to leave an awful lot to interpretation.
In addition to that, there is at least one decision we’ve seen lately which involves VAR (or rather which didn’t) and was baffling and troubling in equal measure.
I refer, of course, to the penalty we didn’t get the other night and which, to the best of our knowledge, VAR didn’t even take a proper look at. What is the point in the technology if a decision as key as that doesn’t even merit scrutiny?
But the really worrying issue is that the excuses are already being made right here at home.
The top man at the SFA, Ian Maxwell, made some comments the other day which are downright bizarre and suggest that we might be in for some hard times.
“We’ll see,” he said, when he was asked if it would work. “We need to do it right. Due to the profile and because of the interest it’s going to get we need to be as ready as everyone can be. Now everyone I speak to at UEFA tells me that the first three months are going to be horrendous. Patience is probably a good word to use … just making sure that fans, managers, players, pundits, broadcast, media know when it’s used and why it’s used.”
Most of us already know why it’s being used.
If what he’s asking for is understanding for officials who don’t quite grasp it then I suggest he get his head out of his backside.
VAR is used for scrutinising potential offside’s and fouls in the lead-up to goals, for looking at incidents in the penalty area and for dealing with instances of violent conduct.
And that’s all it is used for.
Most people get this already.
We know how it works, and we also know that if the TV cameras can pick up on incident, then there’s no excuse for VAR failing to.
The rulebook is also pretty clear on what constitutes offside and what constitutes violent conduct and what constitutes a foul … we shouldn’t get too many glaring “errors.”
And yet Maxwell appears to be preparing us for a tough period.
Why? Where’s his confidence that the system will deliver?
If he has doubts they aren’t about the technology, which works as everyone can see.
No, if he has doubts it’s about his own people.
We’re watching them, but if they won’t be held accountable for their mistakes then we’re pissing in the wind, no matter how good VAR itself proves to be.
Reading Maxwell’s comments, for the first time I’m a little concerned, and we shouldn’t be.