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By Ronnie Macdonald (Flickr: Referees warm up) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Football Fan

Arsenal’s loss to Stoke was hard to take in for most of the fans; given the humongous share of possession and chances the Londoners had. Almost as if to rub salt in their wounds, they had a goal disallowed by the virtue of the offside flag.

Alexandre Lacazette thundered an effort on goal from close range after the ball ricocheted off a Stoke defender following Giroud’s flick; much to the delight of the Arsenal fans. The celebrations were unceremoniously halted as the assistant referee on the far side had his flag up. Much to the dismay of the fans, the video replays did not help their cause either. It showed Lacazette was marginally offside, but all of this was possibly by zooming into the frame to find a portion of his foot just on the line. In plain sight, it looked pretty much onside.

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Referees do get the odd decision wrong from time to time, but the accuracy of this decision was comical, to say the least. Nonetheless, it’s fair to say that the benefit of the doubt must have gone with the striker.

Technology has been fast creeping into almost every sport.

Read: Chelsea players’ ratings vs Spurs.

We seem to have recognized the repercussions of wrong decisions by match officials, leading to the introduction of the review system. The Video Assistant Referee is a supplement to the referees on the pitch who can refer to video technology if they remain unsure about a particular incident. This brings the element of surprise and unpredictability into debate. Many a times, teams are wronged by dubious and shoddy decision making.

VAR’s purpose is to eliminate these errors and make the game fair. Other prominent leagues such as La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A have an operational VAR in their games. Should the Premier League also go the VAR way?

While the VAR has evoked mixed reactions from referees and fans; its degree of involvement in football is ambiguous.

Everyone wants a correct decision to be implemented. A wrong judgement leading to a loss leaves a sore taste, which fans would want to avoid.

Arguments against this decision are along philosophical lines.

Human error of judgement is natural. No one can always be right all the time. The accuracy of human judgement is desired to be close to a 100%, but in reality, is much less.

It can be hard to disagree that these errors add to a certain extent, the extra spice to the game. Who doesn’t like a controversial call that works in your favour?

Arguments in favour of the VAR tender to the sportsmanship spirit expected to be on show when the players take to the pitch. Simulation has taken somewhat of a central role of late with a lot of players testing the leniency of the referee by taking an occasional tumble to swing the tie in their favour. VAR can put a necessary full stop to this evil.

Players also tend to go over the top with their tantrums after being fouled, but on closer look in the replays; there doesn’t seem to be as much in it as the players’ reaction would suggest. This too can be tackled by the Video Assistant Referee. Another con of this technology is that it pulls the plug on the flow of the game. A decision by the VAR brings the play to a complete halt; breaking the rhythm of the game in the process.

There is sunshine on both the sides. But just as every other decision; we have to pick one side.

To summarize, while the inclusion of the VAR can eliminate certain evils; it can also lead to the expulsion of the factor of unpredictability, and cause a lot of stoppages that can be frustrating in the overall scheme of things.

Read: Spurs’ players’ ratings vs Chelsea.

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