Football is not to blame. The VAR, neither


Some specialist in the field could explain that there is no technology that guarantees absolute precision in the resources placed at the service of a greater, let’s say, sports justice. In tennis, even the supposedly perfect Hawkeye is exposed to a tiny margin of error. However, the mere fact of its existence and the acceptance of the tool as a convention avoids conflicts. Calm the waters. And although on more than one occasion the image that is projected on the screen causes even some sarcasm in the protagonists, sooner rather than later everyone accepts it.

All geniuses in their time, Ilie Nastase even protested strategy (in concentration sport par excellence he could play unfocused), Jimmy Connors erased piques that were inconvenient for him, Brazilian linesmen forced Guillermo Vilas to play far from any line in some Davis Cup and John McEnroe insulted judges until he was considered persona non grata at Wimbledon, where he kept winning titles. None of this would have happened with what we simplify under the name of “technology”. Beyond proper names, tricks or anecdotes, what matters most about what is mentioned is the idea of ​​convention. This is understood to mean having a tool that, duly developed and explained, is accepted by the protagonists as an assistant that brings them closer to the idea of ​​justice. And calm the beasts.

The VAR landed in football with the healthy intention of not only diluting hysteria and diluting conspiracy sensations but also taking away room for maneuver from those who corrupt the game and mess up our supreme passion. The experience of the World Cup in Russia seemed to convince the most skeptical. Four years later, the initial phase of the World Cup in Qatar (later things slowed down a lot) filled even the most convinced of us with skepticism.

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In between, a large part of the soccer universe got on the bond of “technology” and those who decide everything seemed determined to obscure any path that decompresses the madness of the fans, the indignation of journalists and the victimization and suspicion of the protagonists.

I fervently believe that, more than the eternal suspicion that they want to rob us and the dark desire not to have fair referees but referees who favor us, what most damages the process is the obscurantist tendency of priests who believe it is unnecessary to explain systems and failures to us. They act almost like no one deserves to be explained by them what smacks of inexplicable.

I assume that, for many soccer fans, no comparison is less acceptable than the ones made regarding rugby practices and customs. However, when dealing with issues of technology and regulation, the reference becomes inevitable.

In rugby, when the TMO is used, everyone can hear the referee's doubt and the decision making is transparent
In rugby, when the TMO is used, everyone can hear the referee’s doubt and the decision making is transparent

What should soccer’s pursuit of sporting justice learn from rugby’s?

For example, that we can all find out about the decisions of the referees through themselves: It’s fascinating to listen live to rugby referees warning players that they are about to commit an offence, and not wait to catch them at fault like a traffic cop behind a tree. The referee plays. Don’t just judge.

For example, when it is time to use the originally called TMO (rugby VAR) and the referee consults from a preconception, we can often hear something similar to this: “xxx (name of the reviewer) is there a reason to not give (or give as the case may be) the try? It is just a sample that makes it clear that the referee relies on the resource to remove a doubt instead of waiting for that quartet installed in front of the monitors to call him and order what is not ordered.

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In passing, but without delving so as not to bore with examples, what happens with tennis or rugby also happens with judo, taekwondo, basketball, volleyball, athletics, swimming, artistic gymnastics or rhythmic. Everyone, except soccer, managed to turn their technological resources into reliable and unappealable assistants. Any opinion is valid. We are those who believe in the need to decompress hysteria and suspicions and those who consider that the error is something intrinsic to the game.

And above what seems to us, there is reality. A reality that indicates that, If someone thought of installing the VAR to eliminate any suspicion of cheating or arrangement, among scoundrels and obscurantists we are achieving the opposite effect.

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