When VAR technology was first introduced in the English Premier League, in the antiquity of 2018, it was described as Never be “100 percent perfect”but it was hoped that this would reduce the rates of arbitration errors From 4 percent to 2 percent, ideally especially with regard to major decisions. Very scientific! And there’s obviously a lot of BA and a selling prowess, yet it’s also very subtle for the masses.
Every action and decision since then by administrators in the Premier League, the Football Association and PGMOL, not to mention the wholly unhelpful pool of vociferous football experts, has perpetuated the idea that it should in fact be 100 per cent and if we don’t that. If I get it right, someone got it wrong.
And here we are again, after another weekend of “controversial” decisions. This is a familiar place (for fans of any team), but this time the screaming was loud enough – even when It is clear that a mistake was made – that PGMOL decided to conduct a formal review of their decisions and processes, which of course is little more than a BA in performance anyway. VAR will not be resolved by internal review because VAR itself is not the problem. The problem is how we apply it, how we manage it, and what we hope to get out of it.
One of the basic facts in football is that no one can clearly identify the error and you cannot fix this problem by reviewing the video
On the other hand, it’s so funny when it’s not one of the teams I like
– Michael Kelly (@MC_of_A) 4 September 2022
Even if you are David Moyes, you may be able to accept that subjective decisions can lead to different calls by different people. For example, whether Jarrod Bowen spoiled Edward Mindy is a personal interpretation of The laws that define what is wrong and what is not. The same applies to whether Thelo Kahrer makes a mistake by Mendy on me West Hamthe first goal. The referee on the field ruled that both had committed no fouls. The VAR thought it was the second order, and the on-court referee changed his mind after looking at him again. I will tell you that both are wrong, and so is Thomas Tuchel. Of course, David Moyes doesn’t think either of them is wrong.
Expecting to arrive at a single set of “right” decisions is a futile task. These are subjective decisions that humans make. They’ll never be perfect (although adding more eyeballs on and off the field may be helpful in spotting more bugs), and acting as if one way or the other will only perpetuate the current culture of finger pointing and post-game catches.
Finally, we apply my favorite interpretation of the foul: they should be called up whenever Chelsea concedes a goal
– Graham McCurry (MacAree) September 3, 2022
So what is the solution then?
If our goal is really to judge games more “fairly,” we should start by making objective decisions out of human hands and giving them to machines. Stealth, out of bounds, target line (already done), time keeping, anything considered a clearly defined binary selection – on/off, in/out, etc. – should be automated. Reducing errors in those decisions will reduce errors in general.
Disagreements in subjective decisions will always be present, and unless we try to go down the rabbit hole in defining the binary laws of subjective calls (see: Attempts to codify handball), it will be a necessary condition of the human game played by humans. We can improve the “acceptance” factor for personal calls by providing a more consistent interpretation of laws, adding more eyeballs, and improving the transparency of the process.
Reviewing individual decisions from certain games when someone shouts loud enough won’t change anything. The present system is set up to fail, and when it fails inevitably and continually, we blame the individual. Rinse, repeat at the end of the next week after that.