Everton have been on the wrong end of VAR decisions two weeks in a row now, with a crucial penalty being incorrectly awarded against the Blues last week at Brighton, and yesterday a blatant penalty being denied against Spurs.
It would be easy to blame the system, but it’s the men sat in a darkened room that are failing football at an alarming rate this season.
Stockton Park is a name that would hardly have crossed the lips of many supporters before this season, but there isn’t a week goes by now that fans don’t curse it’s very existence.
VAR was supposed to follow goal-line technology in helping referees make decisions. It was supposed to level the playing field. It hasn’t.
Where goal-line is an automated notification, and a machine simply confirms or denies a goal. VAR has an opinion.
Sadly, it’s the opinion of referees who have proven themselves to be utterly fallible over the years. Everton aren’t the only club to be on the wrong end of poor refereeing decisions, but we feel the doubling of the incompetence as much as anyone right now.
Yesterday’s referee – Martin Atkinson – said he had one of his worst moments in his career at Goodison Park, when he sent off Jack Rodwell for a perfectly good tackle on Luis Suarez, who lept into the air screaming as though giving birth. He hadn’t been touched. VAR should change correct those decisions. Last week at Brighton, it took 2 minutes to make an even worse one.
If a referee gets a decision wrong in the heat of the moment, especially in a derby match, you can almost forgive him. If they take 3 minutes and watch a replay showing a clear penalty over, and over, and over again. Then no. We won’t.
The Premier League will, though. Atkinson has been handed a Premier League game next week, and Anthony Taylor – the VAR man on the spot yesterday – is given the Midlands derby between Wolves and Aston Villa.
Used correctly, VAR could enhance the football experience and level the playing field. But as long as match-going fans are kept in the dark and replays defiantly not shown at the ground, and as long as the same selection of incompetents to operate the system is used, then it will continue to blight the sport we love.
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