VAR has endured a difficult start to life since being introduced across Europe’s major leagues at the start of this month, but an incident in the Bundesliga may be the most controversial yet
Here we go again.
The difficult introduction of the Video Assistant Referee system (VAR) into football took another farcical step on Monday night with yet another hugely controversial incident in a Bundesliga match between Mainz and Freiburg.
In unprecedented scenes, a penalty was awarded after the half-time whistle had been blown, with both sets of teams ordered back onto the pitch having retreated to the changing rooms, after VAR awarded a penalty to Mainz for handball.
Referee Guido Winkmann had initially turned down the penalty appeal and blown the whistle for half-time and was himself heading to the tunnel before having to turn around, taking the players with him.
Mainz’s Pablo De Blasis took the penalty and scored it, but questions were immediately asked as to what would have happened if it had been saved and rebounded back out to him - would he have been allowed to score the rebound or not? There were reports that Winkmann had instructed the players not to continue with the game had this happened - but in any normal game, it is convention to wait until the ball in is in a ‘neutral’ period of play before ending a half.
Here’s the clip:
Freiburg coach Christian Streich could be seen smiling and shaking his head at the decision, while angry fans threw toilet rolls onto the pitch.
Naturally, people had their say on Twitter:
One Twitter user had another extremely valid question - what would have happened if this had been at full-time?
Same could apply at full time when the team bus is on the autobahn— Ⓜⓐⓡⓚ ⓙ (@worcesterred) April 16, 2018
Some reiterated their desire for football to give up on VAR:
Give me an honest mistake over this nonsense any day of the week— ❄️matt (@Memyselfaswell) April 16, 2018
While others believed that it’s not the system itself that is the problem; it’s the implementation.
The problem isn't VAR, it is the ref who should have reviewed this before blowing for half-time.— Luuk B.🐰 (@147Luuk) April 17, 2018
And refs' mistakes are the exact reason of VAR. So it works perfectly. 👍
Some suggested that this was just part of the refinement of its use, arguing for certain ‘final’ actions in the game.
I think, ultimately, various actions by the referee (declaring half-time, full-time, sending off) should be final unless additional input via VAR is requested by the referee himself before the decision is made.— Martin Christian (@martychristiano) April 17, 2018
This can spawn the potential for too many interruptions in the game
VAR has been beset with problems since its introduction across the top tiers of most major European leagues at the start of this season, with criticisms over the length of time taken to make decisions (with one occasion in Holland memorably seeing a two goal swing take place after a goal, which was scored by one team after a penalty was not awarded against them, was ruled out and the original penalty subsequently awarded and scored) , dodgy offside lines and one equally farcical situation in Portugal when a flag obscured footage seen by the referee.
Despite the issues, VAR is going to be used at the World Cup this summer; let’s see what refereeing delights await us.
(Images: Getty/Sky Sports)