Opinion Piece: Is VAR Even the Problem?

In a weekend which produced so many dramatic games, for many fans it will be the 4:30pm kickoff at Goodison Park which stays firmly in the minds of fans. That is of course for the horrific injury of André Gomes. A truly tragic incident, but one I believe can be talked about for two reasons: the injury itself, and the bizarre use of VAR.

I myself am still caught in two minds. Heung-Min Son obviously didn’t mean to break the ankle of André Gomes, that much is certain. However, you cannot deny that he went into that tackle with the sole aim of bringing the Everton player down. 

As soon as you go into a challenge with the intention of bringing the player down, you should then be prepared to accept the consequences of your actions. Sure, Heung-Min Son was only aiming to break up play, but by doing so he disrupted a sequence of play that would’ve otherwise just seen Serge Aurier winning the ball clearly. 

Not for one second am I doubting Son’s intentions here, and you can tell that from his reaction to the incident. He was clearly devastated and even without that red card, there would surely have been no way the player could continue. After all, Heung-Min Son has always seemed like a really emotional guy. 

I think Martin Atkinson was indeed correct to send the player off, I’m not sure if VAR had any effect on the decision but the initial decision of a yellow card was quickly rescinded in favour of a red one. 

It’s also nice to read that Séamus Coleman paid a visit to the Tottenham stadium after the game to patch things up and make sure Son wasn’t beating himself up too badly. Coleman was on the receiving end of a similar injury a few seasons back when his leg was snapped in two, so he would’ve had some idea about how the potential contributor of a similar injury would feel.

Nevertheless, the injury seemed to give Everton all the motivation they could possibly need to snatch a goal back in the dying embers of the game to hamper further misery on a Spurs side desperate for any kind of result. 

At this point it’s getting just a tad ridiculous, you can scarcely even have a conversation with someone about Premier League football without it coming back to VAR. Quite how Heung-Min Son wasn’t awarded a penalty in the early stages of the second half I’ll never know. His foot was quite clearly caught by Everton defender Yerry Mina. Having deliberated for several minutes, it was only natural that Martin Atkinson chose not to consult the pitch-side Referee Review Area and thus got the decision wrong.

The thing is, I’m not even sure what, or even who to be annoyed at by this point. Why are these referees completely incapable of using these monitors at the side of the pitch? 

In fact, they’ve been used a grand total of zero times so far. So extreme was this number that I briefly pondered whether they were actually allowed to be used yet. Having gone back to check rule books, I can confirm there is no reason for them not to be used. The main concern and reason that they’ve not been used yet is because referees are worried that it will take too long to go and check the screen.

Furthermore, this ridiculous protection system in place between the referees has got to be broken. It seems blatantly obvious that the VAR referees are unwilling to step on the toes of their friends on the pitch so as to not make them look bad.

At least if the referees were willing to use the Referee Review Area we would be able to draw some conclusions. Is VAR actually the problem, or have we been left with a group of referees so poor that no amount of technology can help them.

One thing I am certain of however, is that after this latest group of incidents we are finally on the verge of seeing some change. 

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