VAR-sighted: Officials Becoming Stars of the Show

Ajax’s tremendous performance in the Bernabeu last night is in danger of being forgotten in the faux controversy over VAR. And it is a faux controversy. Whether you like it or not, VAR is here to stay; too many reputations and too much investment is on the line for the status quo to continue.

It took five minutes from Tadic’s excellent finish to the game restarting. That decision should only take thirty seconds. Even at first glance, the replays from the usual angle were useless; the second angle was no better so that is sixty seconds at worst.

What was immediately apparent was the unobscured view of the lino and he didn’t flag. It was such a simple thing to resolve and very quickly. One view of the replay showed the angle was wrong; the second replay similarly so. A quick chat with lino; bang, solved. Under a minute.

In reality, the officials in the booth are too beholden to technology and lost sight of the match. Was there too much pressure for them to handle because the angles were inconclusive? That is the biggest hurdle VAR must overcome; technology cannot make every decision; football’s authorities must focus on the quality of the VAR officials as much as camera angles.

The delicious moment was Real Madrid trying to influence the decision by lining up to take the throw-in. “Did the ball go out of play? You know, these Real Madrid players are ready to restart with a throw and in their own ground, I’m inclined…” as it happened “to tell them to do one; GOAL!”

Real’s performance was the second half of Solari’s resignation letter. If defeat to Barcelona was the first page, this was him writing the second page in green ink in a spiral.

Call The Witchfinder General!

Once again, however, we’re talking about officials. The adage of a good referee not being noticed is going further by the wayside with every passing season. From prima donnas to incompetents, referees are becoming too much of the focus.

If they are so pre-eminent, we should hear from them post-match to know why decisions were taken. It doesn’t change the situation but it explains actions. “So, Mr Taylor, the encroachment in the area…”; “And you say you saw this stamp, so why was it unpunished?”

Were their predecessors stronger-minded? Would Anthony Taylor award a penalty 90 seconds into a World Cup final against the host nation? His lily-livered display at Wembley shows otherwise. Not that his colleagues are any better.

But that’s a big decision; it’s the little ones they get so horribly wrong which are more worrying. Standards are dropping and the Premier League shows no inclination to improve them. Managers and players find themselves obliged to talk to the press but match officials get off scot-free. Yet the authorities can control a referee’s press conference, including the manner in which questions are asked: it’s win-win if handled correctly. However, that’s a caveat too far.

They won’t because there is too much danger of referees being undermined. “REFEREE ADMITS MISTAKE BUT HE’S STILL A WITCH! BURN HIM!” is the doomsday scenario they fear.

Beyond the initial field day when referees starting talking to the press, officials will get an easy ride. And if forces them to up their game, football wins. If they can’t hack it and take the spinelessness elsewhere, football wins.

There won’t be a shortage of match officials for the professional game. Equate their pay to a manager and watch people flock to qualify, ready to be told that we wished they would “flock off”.

More Behind The Scenes Changes

The turnover of staff on the footballing side continues unabated. Gilles Grimandi, a double-winner in 1998, is joining OGC Nice as technical director and reuniting with Patrick Vieira. The news was greeted with the usual salvo of disrespect on social media. Always good to see a former player being told to “F*ck off” first thing in the morning.

There’s a feeling that this will continue well into the new technical director’s reign at the club. That’s gone quiet, hasn’t it? Monchi versus Overmars died a quick death on the back pages with the Spaniard seemingly the man. No sign of an announcement, much to the disappointment of a host of magicians who specialise in tricks involving plastic chambers and dry ice.

The squad is on its way to Rennes for tomorrow’s first leg with Unai Emery and some poor sap being dragged in front of the media. It’s 15 – 20 minutes of their lives they will never get back. Still, we’ll know one of the XI who is playing. Swings and roundabouts, etc.

’til Tomorrow.

18 thoughts on “VAR-sighted: Officials Becoming Stars of the Show

  1. Pete the Thirst says:

    Taylor’s (and his lino’s) poor (r)effing performance on Saturday is proof of why VAR has to happen. Maybe each team should be limited to 2 challenges per game to make sure the process isn’t over-used?

    Also players shown to be diving for penalties should be banned for 3 games. The coaches would not be happy losing a player for 3 games so would discourage the serial divers like Son going to ground easily.

  2. Ras says:

    Good to see you scribing again YW. Excellent Top post.

    This Ajax Team J adore leur façon a joue Football

  3. Pete the Thirst says:

    Not sure exactly what Giles Grimandi did at the club in his latest role, but he was a useful player. Quite dirty when the situation required. Something Wenger moved away from post 2008 and the team was never as competitive.

    I remember him cuffing Diego Simeone behind the ref’s back and drawing blood in a CL game at Lazio.

  4. Dalm says:

    Teams need a Grimandi.

    Re var – clear and obvious error – hint is in there somehwhere – need to look at it for ages to decide though

  5. ferkov says:

    Tadic looking back to his best after losing the plot, understandably, at Soton.
    Anyone need a No 10 ?? 😳

  6. Woolwich Freddie says:

    Much sense, YW. VAR is surely a good thing but needs to serve the game not the tech and is only as good as the refs, who are generally terrible. They really have been bad this season. I’ve been playing this little game, trying to guess if the ref or our defence is going to be worse each week. Wembley was one of the rare occasions the ref has won but not for want of trying on many occasions.

  7. Paulie Walnuts says:

    VAR should mop up the clear & obvious but in rugby it sometimes feels as if the officials go looking for reasons to change a decision depending on who is the home / bigger team.

    My fear is that this will creep into football too & the current ineptitude will just be extended AND slow the game down.

  8. Bill says:

    Thanks for the post yogi

    Its inevitable that technology would make the match officials into the stars of the game because we now know just how many mistakes are made in almost every game. Same thing happens in American football. One of the biggest talking points of the American football season was the missed call which cost New Orleans their chance to go to the super bowl. Its easy to criticize officials, however when we see the exact sort of things happening in all of European football and in American football it should at least make us pause long enough to consider the possibility that perhaps its not as easy to get it right as it would seem while we watch sitting in our easy chair with a beer in our hands. Does it really seem reasonable to believe that the entire worlds ref fraternity in different sports on different continents all took stupid pills and became incompetent at the same time?

  9. Bill says:

    We have been complaining about the refs for all 10 1/2 years that I have been following the blog. At first it was the all the ridiculous conspiracy theories about the FA trying to hold back Arsene Wenger. Every year we have been saying the are refs are more and more incompetent. I think the reality is that refs have always made mistakes and always will and the idea they are making a lot more mistakes now is off target although there is no way to prove that. There is no solution to human fallibility and although VAR is not perfect its the best option we have and we either have to accept VAR with its warts or accept the refs are going to make lots of mistakes just like they always have and live with that.

  10. thrill says:

    Thanks for the write up, hoping for an easy breezy performance tomorrow!

    Bill that no-call is probably the most obvious thing i’ve ever seen. Not sure if the game will ever get better, you hope VAR fixes some things. Havent seen the debacle yesterday will have to check it out while slacking off at work today :p

  11. Blue Yonder says:

    As far as a post-match interview in which the ref has to explain his action or inaction is concerned, I don’t think any major sport allows that to take place . So, it’s unlikely it will happen in football.
    That said, technology is showing everyone at home that egregious officiating mistakes are being made. Whether or not it’s VAR, some method is needed that helps make the correct decision. Apart from “the integrity of the game”, there’s just too much money at stake not to do everything possible to get it right.

  12. SV says:

    Totenham and ManU through. With hat, all top four competitors have a chance to qualify via the back door. Who will decide to prioritize the European cup competitions over the domestic league? What if all four?

  13. SV says:

    And of course ManU vs Tottenham in the quaters would be interesting.

  14. Bill says:

    Thanks for the write up, hoping for an easy breezy performance tomorrow!

    Bill that no-call is probably the most obvious thing i’ve ever seen. Not sure if the game will ever get better, you hope VAR fixes some things. Havent seen the debacle yesterday will have to check it out while slacking off at work today :p

    I agree, The no call which cost New Orleans their chance at the super bowl was one of the most glaring errors I’ve seen. I have no idea how the refs missed it. Strange things happen to match officials in all sports that are unexplainable. Same way that a top striker will occasionally miss a wide open goal that you would expect him to score every time or a playmaker will choose the wrong pass. Stuff happens. I think those sort of calls happen more often in European football because the rules of the game are more nebulous and the game moves so fast and the refs attention span has to cover a much bigger amount to territory and compared with other major sports. American football uses 7 refs to watch 22 players compared with only 3 in European football. I have a lot of experience as a baseball umpire and that job is much much easier since the umpire only has to cover plays at his base and the rules of baseball are the least nebulous of any sport. There is very little subjectivity in the decision baseball umpires make and yet they still make mistakes.

  15. MikeSA says:

    One of my enduring memories of Grimandi is from Bergkamp’s testimonial match at the new stadium when he tripped an Ajax player (name escapes me at the moment for some reason – wore the yellow specs I think? – Edgar Davids?), from behind to avoid the chop running the event, and his subsequent shrug of the shoulders and hilarious look on his face.

    It was priceless – true Gooner.

  16. Arsetralian says:


    Was that the one they laid out #10 orange t shirts on each seat? My memory was that was at Highbury but I forget everything these days

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