Cover Feature Raumdeuter

The impact of coronavirus may detract from the season’s earlier VAR controversy

Featured in Raumdeuter Issue 8 (08/06/2020)

Controversy has dominated this Premier League season long before the current coronavirus outbreak reared its head. Almost every gameweek throughout this season has come with its own plethora of headlines and questionable moments; most of which will now be long forgotten due to the impact Covid-19 has had on the professional game. And the cause for all of this pre-coronavirus controversy: the video assistant referee (VAR) system.

Football supporters up and down the country, whether they supported the system or not, were looking forward to the off-season at the end of the 2019/20 campaign as an opportunity for the key decision makers for the Premier League to get together, put their collective thought processes to the task and come up with the necessary refinements to improve the implementation of the VAR system for the following year’s campaign.

Already by the halfway mark of the season when coronavirus showed up uninvited to the party, every team in the Premier League had been affected by controversial VAR decisions – almost every one of them having suffered decisions both for and against them too. There was a collective desire to improve the system, regardless of which side of the fence you sat on over its initial implementation.

Everyone largely understood, love it or hate it, the VAR system was here for the long term and so if nothing else it should have been a priority to streamline and improve the system. Controversy had to be eliminated as best it could, decisions and the whole process on the field needed sped up in some manner and the frankly ridiculous offside and handball decisions which were slowly mechanising and draining the essence of joy out of the sport had to be addressed definitively.

Nobody expected a full revamp, hard reset or perfect solution. However, change was expected. Improvements to some degree were expected. Now, with Project Restart and the unknown, inevitable knock-on effects of the coronavirus postponement dominating any decisions being made around the Premier League, any improvements to VAR are likely to be put on the back burner before being lost forever among other important tasks.

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