“I have a three-year-old daughter at home who could tell you that was a penalty.” Everton manager Frank Lampard was not wrong and it might be the most controversial VAR (video assistant referee) moment in football.
Last night at Goodison Park, Manchester City’s Rodri clearly handled the ball inside his own area late on during the Premier League clash. Everyone believed it would result in a penalty for the Toffees. Rodri had that sheepish look on his face and knew he was guilty as did the 39,000 fans packed inside the grand old stadium along with the billions of television viewers all around the world. But incredibly, referee Paul Tierney did not award a spot kick and the video assistant did not think it was an obvious error.
Now, there must be something very seriously wrong with the game for such a daft conclusion to have been reached by the officials because apart for them there will not be a single person who saw the incident that will say it was not a penalty. In fact, it should have been 100 penalties, that’s how blatant it was.
It was not given and now the implications of the result, a 1-0 win for City, are huge. They have increased their lead over Liverpool at the top of the table to 6 points while at the bottom end Everton find themselves a single point off the relegation zone. The home side were robbed of the opportunity of salvaging a precious point because of a VAR decision that was so obviously wrong that it was borderline comical. But this is no laughing matter for Everton. They are the second longest-serving members of the top league in England, having been part of it for an uninterrupted period since the 1954-55 season, but are now staring the dreaded drop in the face.
Phil Foden got the only goal but Everton had several good chances before the City winger struck following a defensive error late in the second half. Up until that moment Everton had matched City and the game seemed destined for a draw – a result which would have been heavily celebrated by the Red half of Merseyside along with the Blue. Everton have improved under Lampard and if they put in similar displays then they should be safe but what can a club do when the officials seem to be against them?
There have been so many other controversial VAR moments since its inception in 2018 and frustration with the use of the technology is reaching boiling point. The worst VAR decision that I have seen was in October 2019, and again, it was Everton who were left aggrieved. During the match against Brighton at the Amex Stadium, Blues defender Michael Keane accidentally stepped on Brighton forward Aaron Connolly’s foot in the box and match referee Andy Madley deemed there to be no foul. However, VAR got involved and awarded a penalty to Graham Potter’s side and they scored and won the match 3-2. Even the most hardened Brighton fan would struggle to argue it was a penalty and in fact Premier League officials later said that the decision should not have been given after a review.
Ditch it now
I was never a fan of VAR and have been calling for it to be scrapped for years. I never had any faith in it and knew it would lead to more problems than solutions.
It was hoped it would eliminate the costs of human error in the game and would do away with players and coaches angrily protesting poor decisions. Simply put it should have helped make more correct decisions and reduce unjustified defeats. Except, it hasn’t. It isn’t the technology itself that is the problem, it is the interpretation of key incidents by humans that causes most of the controversy.
Ditch VAR now and put teams, fans and everyone who loves the beautiful game out of their misery before more costly mistakes are made.