The Premier League has announced that starting next year officials will be allowed to use VAR (video assisted refereeing). The hope is that by using the same replay technology that fans get to watch at home, the referees will get more calls right. And maybe they will. Though judging by the vehement disagreement that still happens over nearly every controversial moment, I doubt it. Either way, I knocked up a list of things that I’m absolutely certain that VAR won’t solve.
- “Making a back”
- Stupid referee “advantage” calls
- Pastel colored kits
- Ticket prices
¹The offside rule seems like one which will be solved by VAR simply. Is the player onside when the ball is played? Draw a little line on the screen and even the worst referee can see whether a player is offside. However, the offside rule allows for a player to stand offside so long as they are not interfering with play. This is often called the first phase. The rule also allows that same player to score goals if they are onside during the second phase.
²Handball is a lot like porn: you’ll know it when you see it. According to the actual laws of the game, handball has to be intentional. In addition, the laws state that position of the hand is irrelevant and that the referee must take into account the distance of the ball to the hand. It’s all about intent. Judging intent if often impossible, though they (commentators from the golden age of football) do like to say things like “well the hand went to the ball” even when the ball was behind the person’s head and the opponent’s pass was less than a foot away and it would have taken preternatural reflexes to have intentionally handled the ball. In practice, the rule is simplified in the 18 yard box to “did it look like someone handled the ball, at all? Then it’s a foul. Or maybe not, it really depends, it’s up to the referee to decide.”
³One of the most dangerous actions on the pitch is one which the British call “making a back” and the Americans call “undercutting.” This is when a player on the ground makes no attempt to win an aerial duel and instead just creeps under his opponent causing them to fall awkwardly on the ground often from a great height. For some reason this is almost never seen as careless, reckless, or using excessive force.
⁴Nothing is going to deprive Mike Dean of his one true joy in life: the dramatic advantage call. Never mind that the “advantage” being played is often given 80 yards from the opponent’s goal and that the opponent has just booted a player’s shins into splinters. It’s an advantage because Mike Dean says it’s an advantage damnit. Now play on!
⁵There are only three things that a team can control in a match: the space, the ball, and the clock. And some teams (because they are unable to control the first two) rely solely on a set of tactics to control the clock. VAR won’t be used to fix this problem and may actually make it worse. VAR simply can’t be used to decide this type of action, though it would be funny to watch a referee take two minutes to go over to the video screen in order to see a goalkeeper moving the ball from one side of his box to the other and then decide whether that was timewasting or not!
⁶There are three main types of fouls/dives: the foul (actual foul), the dive (clear dive), and the foul (plus dive). In theory, the VAR should solve problems with the referees not seeing or wrongly seeing the first two but what it won’t solve are problems with the last one. The foul plus dive is like when a player receives a light tap on the face and goes down holding his face like it’s been sliced off his head. Or worse, when a defender hangs out a leg and the attacker could have gone over/around it but instead kicks out one of his own legs to initiate contact. VAR won’t fix any of these problems and, in fact, may even make them worse. For example, there was a moment in a recent match where a defender went over to berate the attacking player for what he thought was a dive. When the attacking player got up, he sort of made a head-butting motion toward the defender and the defender went down grasping his face as if he’d been injured. I suspect VAR will make these types of dives much more common because the only risk is that you look a bit silly but the reward is a red card for the opponent if the referee is fooled.
⁷Nothing is going to stop Nike and Adidas from putting out more kits that are colored like various forms of 70’s food nightmares or baby puke. NOTHING. One day in the future you’ll all look back on these days with the same fondness that 80s kids have about “hypercolor” and you will say “oh god, I wore that?”
⁸This one is really not funny. I don’t see any way that ticket prices are going to ever return to something reasonable.
⁹Perhaps, in some distant future, when we are all sick of VAR, VAR2 can be introduced. It would be a 2nd VAR, one that the officials will signal to look at while they are looking at VAR. And then when we are sick of VAR2 there will be a VAR3 and a VAR4 and so on, forever, like a mirror looking at itself inside a mirror being held by Mike Dean.
¹⁰Nothing will solve Brexit because Brexit isn’t a plan so much as it’s a political ploy. Brexit is just rich people using fear of immigration to get people to vote for politicians who will enact policies that are beneficial to rich people. Other than the anti-immigration component (which looks like it will pass) Brexit is like Major Major Major Major in Catch-22 and this exchange is illustrative:
First Sgt Towser: Sir, you can only see the major when he is not in.
Captain Tapman: You mean I can only see the major when he’s not in?
Towser: That’s right, Sir.
Tapman: well when can I see him.
Towser: When he is in, he’s not there and you can’t see him, and when he’s out – then you can see him – except that he’s not there.
Oh and before you accuse me of not seeing the log in my own eye, the only reason I’ve come to this conclusion is because of what Donald Trump has done to America with the exact same political ploy, over and over again.