Limpag: Other kind of VAR

Mike T. Limpag

FIFA, the world governing body for football, adopted the Video Assisted Referee because of the clamor for reforms during the 2010 World Cup, most glaring of which was the disallowed goal by Frank Lampard.

Most of the football leagues have adopted it but because it’s an expensive system, not all have VAR.

But in Cebu, we have our own VAR, long before Fifa made it official. I’m referring to videos taken by parents, coaches or supporters in matches who they sometimes submit to prove a call is wrong.

In the SunStar Cup a few years back, a video a supporter showed us clearly showed the referee was wrong. He disallowed a goal but the video proved that the goal should have been called.

Thankfully, in football, there’s an easy fallback for us organizers. The referee’s call is final, your video notwithstanding.

But here’s the tricky situation. In an age where almost everyone attending a football match has a camera in his pocket, should organizers continue to ignore video evidence?

I ask that because in a group chat I am in, which was supposed to be for schedules, a coach shared a clip of one player hitting another. An offense worthy of a red card, he said. At first glance, it is but a more thorough review of the clip shows that it doesn’t show the whole sequence, the linesman was directly in front of the incident and the referee promptly acted.

For the coach, the action of the referee wasn’t enough. He wanted more.

Due to technology, there are going to be more cases like this; of fans having video evidence of a referee’s mistake. What should be the stand of our local FA regarding these kinds of VAR?

Well for me, unless a complaint is filed. Nothing.

Second, since it’s not THE VAR, questions regarding goals, video evidence notwithstanding, shouldn’t be entertained. Let’s keep that sacrosanct and leave it to the referee, even if he gets it wrong.

But as to incidents like in that shared video clip, I think it’s worth it to allow it to be used as evidence. Of course, it’s a given that there should be a complaint filed. Otherwise, it’s just a worthless video. Without a complaint, it would be just as useful as the latest funny clip you share online that you readily forget an hour after sharing it.

In this day and age, everyone has a camera in his or her pocket, while teams also stream their games so there will be a lot of incidents that will be captured by cameras that may not have been seen properly by the referees.

What do we do with them? Perhaps, in the next coaching meeting organizers and coaches can agree to either 1) not use them or 2) use them for certain things only, like the review of fouls. A clip maybe have explosive content but I guarantee you, it won’t tell the story. Still, I believe it will be a helpful aid in the decision making process.

There will be more VAR-like incidents in the future and I think we can tap them for certain incidents only to help police the game.