Brace Yourselves For VAR!Peter Houghton
We might have endured a light touch of VAR in various competitions domestically this season, but last night at the Etihad shows precisely the role it could play in bigger arenas.
With Manchester City’s last-gasp “winner” erased by the VAR and Tottenham’s handled winner allowed, it gives us an insight into a new set of challenges that could lie ahead for Safety Officers.
VAR is about settling injustices, what the authorities call “game-changing” decisions. What can be more game-changing than a winning goal being scored off the arm of a footballer and being allowed?
I recall a goal against Manchester City, recently, where the player’s arm was offside but the goal stood because you can’t score with your arm. Try telling that to Mr Boly, whose handled attempt was allowed against the same team earlier this season and then again last night when Llorente scored the winner. Two uses of the arm, two goals.
It was a great testimony to the safety team at the Etihad last night that no major incident took place when Raheem Sterling’s injury time “goal” was ruled out, but will we as lucky next season when wider use of the VAR is predicted along with some rule changes?
We have seen numerous, successful attempts by people getting on to the field of play this season. We can see every week on TV where vulnerabilities lie in the protection of our pitch perimeters. Are we now going to experience situations where those perimeters are likely to be breached in the light of a goal or penalty being allowed or disallowed, especially towards the end of close matches?
It is another risk to be assessed and another set of processes to be put in place.