We’ve made the case time and again for why VAR, soccer’s video replay system, sucks ass. Apparently our cries for sanity have fallen on deaf ears, because reports say the chuckleheads at FIFA have just agreed to inflict VAR upon the upcoming World Cup in Russia.
FIFA prez Gianni Infantino spoke about why he’s supportive of bringing the dumb and bad replay system to the cool and good tournament that is the World Cup. From the BBC:
“We need to live with the times,” said Fifa president Gianni Infantino.
“We wanted to give the referees tools so they can make better decisions, and in the World Cup some very important decisions are made.”
He added: “It’s not possible that in 2018 everyone in their living room knows a few seconds after the play whether a referee has made a mistake and the referee doesn’t.”
“I was sceptical at first, but without trying you cannot know what it’s worth,” Infantino added.
“Without VAR, a referee can make one important mistake every three matches. With VAR, the figures we have seen from the trials that have been held show that a big mistake is made once every 19 matches.”
You know, Gianni, there really isn’t much of a “need to live with the times” here. The past/present actually had the right idea with their on-field refereeing strategy, where everyone knew right away if a goal was a goal or not, or if a player had been off or onside, without resorting to excruciating, emotion-draining delays as the head ref consults with a guy in a closet full of TVs to make a final determination that too often isn’t even any more accurate or satisfying than the original call.
When even otherwise replay-supporting figures in the game are calling for the patient, incremental implementation of VAR for the biggest and best leagues in the world (neither the Premier League nor the Champions League are likely to approve VAR’s use in their tournaments next season), it’s probably smart to at the very least let referees grow more accustomed to the new technology by regulating its use primarily to lower stakes matches rather than to heave the entire sport into the realm of epistemological chaos where VAR currently resides. If you thought refereeing at the World Cup was bad before, just wait until this summer. May the soccer gods have mercy on our souls.