Martin Smith column: Surely VAR cannot last in its current form?

"So many people are unhappy.”

Monday, 30th December 2019, 12:58 pm
Sheffield United's Lys Mousset (not pictured) scores his side's first goal of the game before it being ruled out forr offside by VAR during the Premier League match at The Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday December 29, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

A cry from the heart from the ever-emotional Ian Wright on MOTD2 on the tyranny of VAR.

Damn right they are, just ask Chris Wilder.

When it comes down to what is actually important, VAR is making mugs of footballers and fans.

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“Minimal interference, maximum benefit” was the mantra on the introduction of Dalek decision-making in top level football in August.

Sounded like a good idea at the time.

The Video Assistant Referee system was introduced to provide a way for ‘clear and obvious errors’ and ‘serious missed incidents’ to be corrected.

A 5mm incursion of a knee cap over a computer-generated offside line is neither clear nor obvious.

But that’s not the fault of technology or of the officials charged with re-appraising an on-field decision.

We, with all good intention, invited in this laser-line lunacy, when we asked pixel positions to adjudicate on the living, fluid tide of sporting events.

Sheffield United’s Lys Mousset ruled offside by millimetres and a Blades’ opening goal at the Etihad ruled out.

Wilfred Zaha’s for Palace, Teemu Pukki’s ‘non-goal’, the decision to disallow Wolves’ ‘goal’ against Liverpool made on a thickness of boot leather.

VAR may be correct but it isn’t right.

The spirit of the game is being crushed.

The digital genie is out of the box as in so many other areas of life, it won’t go away and in some cases it DOES make the game fairer.

But can VAR for offside be moderated?

If we use it at all then eventually a line has to be drawn, to decide whether a toe, a foot or a whole body is offside.

While ever we use technology to make decisions we will have logical absurdity.

The absurdity of Mousset’s big toe, Pukki’s shoulder, Jonny’s Predators.

Pressure is building for VAR officials to start to look at when a pass is actually played when making an offside decision.

At exactly what point is a ball passed?

The time between a foot hitting the ball and its moving will need to be measured based on the attacking player’s position in relation to the last TWO defenders (one usually a goalkeeper) when the ball is played forward.

Of course, that way fresh madness lies.

People being unhappy is not always enough to force change.

But VAR cannot last in its current form.