VIDEO ASSISTANT REFEREE (VAR): Good or harmful to football? - FCNaija

Features By: Linus Onyeze | 18/01/2018

Antonio Conte was right. Referee Graham Scott made a ‘big mistake’ by not taking advantage of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) as Chelsea struggled to a penalty shootout win over Norwich in a third round replay in the FA Cup.

Maybe it wasn’t so much of a ‘big mistake’ that he chose not to use the VAR before booking Pedro for that awful dive, but it was surely a monumental mistake not to have used the technology the penalty calls involving Willian and Alvaro Morata.

Of course Chelsea won the game, but the discussion right now could easily have been different had they failed to beat Norwich. For all the criticism of the VAR, it has also proven a useful tool for referees – a typical case being Kelechi Iheanacho’s goal against Fleetwood Town just the day before.

In his reaction to the incidents, Conte said: “If we want to use a new system, I cannot accept a big mistake. In this case, the Willian penalty was a big, big mistake. Not from the referee on the pitch, but from the person watching the game (Mike Jones, the VAR at Stockley Park).”

The Italian manager said again: “The situation was very clear. I watched it and this is a penalty. Very clear. The referee took quickly a decision to book Willian.

“That means you don't have doubt. You must be sure, 100 per cent. And, despite this, there is another person checking the situation.

“If the person checking the situation calls you and says it's a penalty, you say you made a mistake, take back the yellow card and give the penalty.”

Morata may have gone a bit overboard with his reaction after being booked for what the referee perceived to be an overreaction, but if he had consulted the VAR, he would have seen, without any shadow of doubt, that the Spain striker had been pulled, and thoroughly deserved a penalty.

On same occasions, the VAR has proven a very controversial instrument, and former Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer couldn’t hide his disgust when he tweeted “VAR. Carnage! #CHENOR”.

So where then do we go with the technology? Use it or bin it?

It’s really a tough one to say, with differing views on how helpful or not it has been to football and questions continue to arise on whether it has come to stay in football. Maybe it needs some time for people to get used to it, or maybe it is ruining the spontaneity.