Football in England is back. And with it, inevitably, comes talk about the ways video assistant referee has failed to deliver the clarity and consensus that was hoped for when adopted by the world’s richest league.
“Over the last week, for me there has been four or five decisions that I think should have gone the other away,” said Liverpool’s Andry Robertson following a match against Burnley in which he had a penalty shout waved away.
“I think many footballing people think they should have gone the other way too. I believe that the referees are relying on VAR, but then VAR isn’t overturning any decisions, so we are stuck in limbo.
“If the referee called it, you’d say ‘OK, he’s seen it differently.’ But the fact we have about 40 cameras and 40 different angles, I believe the decisions should be right.”
A common complaint before coronavirus forced a pause to the season was that VAR seemed less interested in helping to get the call right than it was in finding a way to support the referee’s decision on the field.
While Robertson may certainly be biased, believing Liverpool deserved at least one penalty they didn’t get on the weekend, most fans watching the game have raised an eyebrow in VAR’s direction at some point over the last few weeks.
And for Robertson, it comes down to the central question: if VAR isn’t actually meant to get the call right, what even is the point of having it?
“I spoke to the referee and the officials in the tunnel after, and he explained what he thought he had seen,” Robertson added. “Not all referees do that, so fair play to him but I still thought he was in the wrong and that it was a penalty.
“That’s what we believe VAR was brought in to do. For me, how that’s not a penalty, I still scratch my head over it.”