VAR makes another shameful appearance in the Chelsea Manchester United match
The continuous use of VAR has been controversial everywhere it has been used. In both the Women’s World Cup, EPL, and MLS, there have been many issues that have plagued the newly established system. In replay analysis especially given that it is in real-time, is never an exact science. As we have seen in American Football sometimes they get calls wrong even after 99% of the people watching clearly see a penalty. However soccer is a different animal and it seems as if there are disconnects between what is the letter of the law, and when common sense should prevail. The new system essentially gives the power to the VAR ref to completely reverse the decision of the actual referee at the game. Why not just have the on-site ref watch the replay and make the final decision based on what he saw live, and then rewatch on a 4K screen. That is exactly how they do it in college football, and although it has its hitches, it has to be more reliable than some of the absurd mistakes that have been made by VAR.
VAR has been a topic covered in many articles in past postings on The 5 Stripe Maven. So I apologize if it seems like I am doing nothing more than beating a dead horse. Replay in football is something that is trial and error as most endeavors, however, the travesty that befell Chelsea F.C this past match week was one of the most egregious examples of VAR making things worse. In the 21st minute of the match, Harry McGuire and Batshuayi were both jostling for the ball when the Man U defender cleared it out of their half. In the process they both fell to the ground, and even watching live it seemed almost indisputable that McGuire deliberately extended his leg into the groin of the Chelsea forward. Upon watching the replay both Graeme Le Saux and Lee Dickson appeared to have seen the same thing.
Yes, the argument could be made that the defender was “Bracing” him, and thus trying to protect Batshuayi. In the words of Le Saux “He walked into my fist.” The decision went to VAR and by some stroke of Godly intervention or outright stupidity McGuire was allowed to stay on the field without any repercussions. This turned out to be a huge deal considering that he ended up scoring one of the two goals in the game, when he clearly should have been Red Carded and off the pitch. During the London Derby Tottenham winger, Hung Min Son was raked by the cleats of Rudiger and was sent off without hesitation after VAR. So how in the world is it possible to kick another man in the nether region, with cleats, which I can personally attest to the pain of, and not get sent off? Is that not the sole purpose of VAR?
The absurdity would continue to the end of the game, although Anthony Martial did flick in a deft header right before halftime. In the 55th Minute, a corner sent in saw Azpilicueta clearly pushed in the back before flicking on a header which Zouma put in the net. The foul was called on Cesar, as it seemed at first glance he did push the defender in front of him. Okay, that’s what VAR is for right? Yet again the daft gentlemen sitting in some dark room in London did not see what everyone else did. Azpilicueta was pushed in the back and fouled himself, his momentum from being pushed in the back is what created the foul that disallowed the goal. The goal should have stood. Shortly after Harry McGuire would add the 2nd goal of the game with a header from an exquisite corner making the score 2-0 in favor of the Red Devils, again you would think the absurdity would be over. It was not.
In the 77th minute, Giroud scored an absolutely sublime diving header that beamed into the back of the net. Then our good friend VAR appeared again to save, or rather screw up the day. Now, this is a slightly different example as under the letter of the law he was offside, but by such a tiny fraction it could have been a goal before VAR. That is the crux of my issue with offside calls using VAR that are literally Centimeters from onside or offside. The rule is meant to not give an advantage to the attacker, and Giroud had none. VAR has done two things that have so far seemed to make things worse. Firstly, it takes the power out of the hands of the ref on the field, and secondly, it has created an analog-style of judging penalties and offside, yet they make such large egregious calls completely differently from game to game.
There should be leeway I the offside rule as it should only be given if the attacker is more than a quarter of his boot offside. As far as the “helping kick” by McGuire, there is no excuse for that, and the problem is these are the types of calls that don’t just change games, but seasons. They MUST reform the VAR system before the World Cup otherwise there will be riots in the streets of major cities. Not really, but it will be a disaster. I feel for Lampard, Chelsea, and of course Batshuayi. He handled himself well after the kick which if done deliberately like it was would have thrown most players into a rage. That kind of behavior cannot be tolerated in this amazing sport, especially when there are safeguards in place.
Here are single photos of the McGuire foul:
And the offside: