How to prove that VAR is garbage with just one video (What really grinds my gears #17)

So here we go again. Actually, I was planning not to write much about VAR in modern football anymore. I think I’ve sufficiently stated how much I dislike this new feature and how much I think that it’s rather destroying football than actually adding something useful to it.

But not too long ago, VAR has been confirmed at the World Cup in Russia this summer. How exciting… As we’ve clearly seen an the Confed Cup – nothing less than the official trial in international football for the VAR – the technique has way too many problems to be used at the most important and biggest football tournament in the world.

Well, apparently FIFA has another opinion. And from my point of view I only have one explanation for this decision: FIFA officials have not watched a single game of football in Germany, Australia, Italy or Portugal this year.

Because in these leagues, among a few others, VAR is being used since the beginning of the seasons. And failures haven’t been rare. Many people that were longing for VAR to be introduced have since changed their minds and see VAR – as it is now – as harmful for their beloved sport.

Why? Because it may provide a little bit more fairness in the game, having goals disallowed because of players being offside by five centimetres, not visible for the linesman to see. But what’s the price we’re paying for that? Emotions! Having to wait after every second goal of your club if some guy in front of a plasma screen a few hundred kilometres away will allow it or not kills what makes football so special – the power of instantaneous emotions.

Don’t believe me? Have a look at this video from last weekend then.

It shows AC Milan player Patrick Cutrone after allegedly having scored a goal. However, he, all his teammates and every Milan fan couldn’t celebrate it instantly. Instead they had to wait for minutes while the goal was under review by VAR. After the goal is allowed, Cutrone tries to celebrate. Well, he’s the only one who really does. No collective ecstasy in the stadium, no relief after having scored an important goal, nothing.

This episode proves how much harm VAR does to football. For a rather unimportant league game this might be not so terrible after all. But imagine if Mario Götze’s World Cup winning goal from 2014 would have been reviewed like that. Do we really want this to happen?

How do you feel about VAR being used at the World Cup? Let’s discuss in the comment section!

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Now even managers dive in football – how far have we come? (WRGMG #15)

Hello everyone! First of all, sorry for not having been able to write any in-depth blog posts lately. I’ve had university exams and was also busy with work so the blog had to rest for a while. However, this doesn’t mean that I haven’t been enraged by the world of sports in this period. But I managed to maintain calm and not write my anger down.

Anyways, this week has been too much. So there will actually be two What Really Grinds My Gears this week. Both go into a similar direction: how sportsmanship has been trampled on in both football and darts. On live tv. Before the holidays. Too much for any sports-enthusiast to bare.

Let’s start with football. I know many people here in Switzerland who prefer hockey over football. And I really hat arguing with them, as I see things differently. But one of their main arguments has ridiculously been proven to be true this week. They keep saying that football players are huge pussies who can’t do anything but dive after the slightest touch.

Diving is part of the game. But: Some players surely do overexaggerate. Source: Twitter

Now, if that happens between players on the pitch that’s one thing. During the game you might want to secure a free kick from a promising position or you want to have that opponent sent off who has already been booked before. I can understand that to a certain extent. It’s the heat of the moment and the spirit of desperately wanting your team to win. Two aspects that make football one of the greatest sports on the globe, but it’s also these two factors that generate space for cheating and behavior that we don’t want to see in the beautiful game.

Source: Twitter

Last week, however, things have been taken too far. In the German cup, a coach has been caught diving trying to provoke a red card. I’m talking about Heiko Herrlich, the coach that took sleeping giant Bayer Leverkusen back to old strength in the Bundesliga. During the game against Borussia Mönchengladbach he produced the most ridiculous dive I have ever seen in my entire life. As a coach. As a role model. Heiko Herrlich just ruined his entire integrity and sympathy that he has build up with great managing skills this season with this one move.

I have nothing else to say but: Shame on you, Heiko.

After the ball went out and Gladbach player Denis Zakaria went to collect it, he slightly touched Herrlich with his hands. Neither was that a strong touch, nor did he intend any aggression whatsoever towards him. Still, Herrlich goes down like Zakaria stabbed him with a f*cking sword.

See for yourself:

Now I’m a big supporter of harsh rules towards diving players. Being able to ban them even after the game when video proves that they dived is one of the few really useful new rules that have been introduced to football. This time, this rule needs to be brought up against Herrlich as a manager.

At least, Herrlich apologized for his dive and takes full responsivbility. This proves, he can and should be forgiven. Still, if he won’t get banned for this ridiculous move many questions will have to be answered about the general state of modern day football. Maybe hockey is actually better after all.

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Useless Rules: Refs aren’t responsible for stoppage time scandals in Spain and Mexico (WRGMG #13)

Stoppage time is one of the aspects that annoys me the most about football. Either a team on the bottom of the second Dutch division that had no attempt on goal so far and is 1:0 down goes full Real Madrid and scores a screamer of an equalizer ruining your combo-bet or a referee that decides to feel generous and gives two minutes of stoppage time after a game full of substitutions, treatments and time-wasting, when your favorite team is 0:1 down. You know what I mean. Somehow I feel that what happens after the 90th minute is a freaking curse for most football fans.

Additionally, as a football enthusiast from Basel, Switzerland, I’ve always had my personal trouble with stoppage time. Back in 2006 our rivals from Zurich took the championship from us due to a goal in the 93rd minute – in the last game of the season. A defining moment.

But hey, after all, that’s football. Knowing that a game can change entirely until the final whistle is blown makes it thrilling. So conceding goals in stoppage time is one thing, you could always be on the other side too and see your team score. Referees not having the balls to punish teams for time-wasting is another. A thing, that I feel needs to be changed in today’s football. What I’d wish for would be no fear of giving 8 or 9 minutes when a team has had 6 medical treatments during the second half.

But what I want to write about in this week’s What Really Grinds My Gears is even worse than this matter for the spirit of each fan in the stands or in front of the tv. In the last few days I’ve heard of two situations, where the referees took it to another level. I thought it was a joke or a huge misunderstanding at first. But apparently, it wasn’t.

In the Liga MX, the 1st Mexican tier, and in the Segunda B, the 3rd division in Spain, referees disallowed goals in stoppage time, because they blew the whistle just before the ball was shot on target. But I think this is best described in pictures. So see for yourself:

Mexico: Toluca misses a penalty and scores the equalizer from the follow-up. But in the meantime the referee had ended the game already.

At first, this looks like a huge joke. The referee ends the game straight away, after the penalty was taken and ignores the fact that there’s still explicit danger of a goal being scored by the follow-up. “Shouldn’t a referee know the football rules?” Well actually, he does. In the official FIFA rules it says that after a penalty was given in stoppage time it HAS to be taken, no matter if the added time would already be over and that the game cannot be ended UNTIL the shot has had its “effect”.

What that means: When he was sent towards the goal and either went in, missed the target or got deflected by post, crossbar or keeper WITHOUT the possibility of a goal without touching any other players than the keeper again, the game HAS to be ended straight away. So if the ball would have bounced back from the ground or the keeper into the goal, it would have had to count. But in our case a Toluca player took the rebound and scored. So we have to say: Having added 3 minutes of stoppage time and the penalty being taken in the 100th minute, the referee did do the right call. Well done, dear ref. But also: Dear FIFA, wtf is that rule?!

Spain: Ponferradina scores after a long pass, that seems to have been deflected by a defender at first. The referee blew the final whistle before the shot had been taken.

Also here, the referee’s car might not have survived the night, as players and fans alike must have got pretty upset with the decision that at first seems like a scandal. But again: According to the FIFA rules he didn’t have to let this attack be completed before ending the game, under the premise that this scene has occurred after the added time he indicated would have been over (doesn’t become clear with the video source we have, as you can see). Only for penalties, the game needs to be extended.

But again, this rule doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense from a practical point of view. I guess, the whistle has been blown, because the referee thought that the defender would deflect the ball more clearly with his header, which he didn’t. An attack like that needs to be conducted. With ending the game before the shot (and the goal), the referee didn’t just not end the game from a neutral position (which would be what you’d expect from an impartial ref) but he influenced the entire outcome with disallowing the winning goal.

So today we’ve learned again that added time sucks. And that modern day referees can only lose. Like we saw with the Mexican example, referees need to be protected more with reasonable rules by FIFA. Every fan would at first curse the ref, for ruining the game when in fact he was just obedient to a useless rule. A bit of common sense wouldn’t hurt here at all, just as it wouldn’t have for the Spanish ref that, in my opinion, simply has misinterpreted a rule. Hence: It’s not justified to entirely blame the ref in both cases, especially not in the Mexican one.

What should have become evident is that the rules concerning injury time are outdated and to some extent even simply stupid. And that’s what I think needs to change in order to avoid a lot of trouble in the game. Gosh, how I hate stoppage time.

But as I’ve said before: All of this is a crucial part of football. Let’s close this article with the words of Carlos Terrazas, the coach of Ponferradina:

The referee has taken this decision and we have to respect it. We all make mistakes, players, managers, and also referees. It’s part of football and we have to respect it, because without referees we couldn’t play.