Celebrating a goal has traditionally been an experience that is logical and emotional.
First comes the knowledge that your team has been successful, then comes the freedom to revel in it among a group of like-minded people. Celebrating a goal in a crowd on a terrace is one of the best things in life. VAR could ruin it.
Disallowing a goal not just seconds but maybe minutes after it has been ‘scored’ is going to have an effect on how fans celebrate. They are going to hold in the excitement.
They are going to tell their brain not to jump to conclusions and their heart to keep calm. And if they do that, then the joyous chain reaction breaks down.
VAR decisions will surely be made more quickly as people get used to the tech but will they be fast enough to preserve that split second of explosive euphoria?
And with VAR obliged to check on every goal, such decisions will be frequent. Willy Boly’s handball in the run-up to Wolves’ ‘goal’ against Leicester was missed by Andre Marriner but it came up so quickly – and at such an oblique angle – that many other referees would miss it too. In that situation VAR must intervene.
This is a real problem but, unlike armpit offsides, it does not apply to all fans equally. Those watching at home have distractions. They can watch replays, get up and make a cup of tea, switch to another tab. For the casual viewer the ‘drama’ of whether a goal will stand or not might even be enjoyable.
For those in the ground, however, it kills the very reason they spend time and money following their team. Being a fan is about celebrating goals; the whole thing changes without it.
After all the testing – including operating VAR dry runs on live games – this was the first occasion where the VAR team at Stockley Park have had
to deal with multiple matches at one time.
The Premier League said about 70 incidents had been checked and former referee Dermot Gallagher was happy with how the system has worked.
The biggest thing that I’ve heard from those that were at the Manchester City game was that they had no idea what was happening when VAR was being used.
Fans being left in the dark while the match-day referee stands with his hand over his ear for three minutes waiting for officials in Stockley Park to analyse replays of an incident that happened 150 miles away is a problem.
This is a system that has been created to not only bring more clarity to the game, but to please armchair fans at home – the supporters in the stadium are wrongfully being neglected.
To rectify this, VAR could be brought pitch-side so officials can all converse in person.