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Is improvement still in order for VAR?

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Inter Milan and AC Milan latest victims of VAR work in Serie A.

UC Sampdoria v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Radja Nainggolan of Inter injured during the Serie A match between UC Sampdoria and FC Internazionale at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on September 22, 2018 in Genoa, Italy.
Photo by Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

The video assisted referee was supposed to usher in this new technological age where mistakes in games made by referees were to be kept to a bare minimum.

Inter Milan fans may disagree.

This weekend, in a match at Sampdoria, the Nerazzurri had a pair of goals disallowed by the VAR due to what was perceived as slight offsides calls.

The first, by Radja Nainggolan, shows the midfielder leaning into the offsides position, but doesn’t give clear indication that the Belgian international’s feet were actually offsides.

Earlier in the match, a goal by defender Kwadwo Asamoah was also disallowed as it apparently showed the ball being out-of-bounds just prior to Asamoah’s shot.

Of course, in the 89th minute of the match, Sampdoria was also the victim of VAR as a goal by Gregoire Defrel was also disallowed for the player being called offsides.

The main question I have is does VAR work?

I think the short answer to the question is ‘yes.’ However, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that improvements to the process need to be made.

AC Milan suffered a similar fate when a goal by Jack Bonaventura was ruled no good by the VAR in their match with Atalanta.

On the other side of the coin, in Fiorentina’s match with SPAL, the VAR was used to overturn an initial red card given to Jasmin Kurtic on a challenge to Viola captain German Pazzela.

Now, purists would argue that the VAR can take away the flow of the game as the referee has to stop play after a goal, thus crushing any momentum a team might have. On the other hand, if a goal isn’t proper, it shouldn’t be allowed.

I get that.

However, I think we have to be cautious about being too reliant on the VAR and taking the game completely out of the hands of the officials on the field.

In terms of Nainggolan’s offsides call against Sampdoria, the flag official didn’t believe he was offsides and neither do I. And judging by what I saw of the replay, there really wasn’t any conclusive evidence to suggest he was.

Now, UEFA has yet to implement the VAR in the Champions League group stage — must to the chagrin of Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus after Ronaldo was shown a straight red card in their first match of the group stage last week.

Even UEFA officials find that the VAR isn’t an exact science.

“Something needs to improve, but at the World Cup it worked quite well. VAR isn’t completely clear right now, but we also know there is no way back,” UEFA head Aleksander Ceferin told La Gazzetta dello Sport back in August.

I agree.

There has to be a balance between trusting the judgement of the on-field officials and that of a VAR in the booth.

We can’t let it get to the point where the VAR is used with every single major call in a match, otherwise, why have flag officials. If we trust them for instantaneous decisions that don’t impact a goal, why would we not trust them for calls that do?


What do you think? Post your comments below!