Opinion: VAR needs to stop refereeing the game

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I must admit I thought it was a no-brainer when the introduction of VAR to rule on controversial decisions in football was first mooted.

Now? I’m not so sure. I still think there is a need for it, but only if it operates sensibly and as unobtrusively as possible.

There is a fine line between using the technology to underpin the referee’s decision-making process and to interfere with it.

Unfortunately it’s a line VAR has crossed on more than one occasion. It seems to be that those operating the system are actively looking for decisions to adjudicate on rather than deliberating on clearly contentious decisions. In short, being proactive rather than reactive.

On more than one occasion we’ve seen a ‘goal’ scored, a seemingly legitimate counter duly celebrated by the team who have scored with nothing in the way of protests from their opponents.

Nothing to see here, you think. Then along comes killjoy VAR to point out, usually among complete bewilderment, that there was a minor infringement in the build-up to the goal so it has to be disallowed.

Similarly we’ve had penalties awarded when there hasn’t been a hint of a claim from the benefitting team, nor any concern about a potential award from the offending one.

In the past it would have been a case of play continuing without anyone batting an eyelid. Now, every time a goal is scored everyone has half an eye on the scoreboard to see if Big Brother is going to cut short the celebrations.

So perhaps the time has come to introduce a tennis-style challenge system.

We have to allow the players to play, the referees to referee - and VAR to speak when it’s spoken to.