All I want for Christmas is a one card VAR check


Blind Hammer on a way forward for VAR




All I want for Christmas is a one card VAR check

When Frank Lampard had a perfectly good goal disallowed in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa in the 4-1 defeat by Germany, I became convinced that technology had to intervene to prevent howlers of this kind distorting not just games but whole Tournaments.

For those struggling to remember, Lampard’s shot rocketed into the net but, because the ball hit the Stanchion inside the net, it bounced out again and amazingly the referee disallowed the goal.


This refereeing incompetence was a turning point in the game, and the whole World Cup for England. It was wrong for the incompetence of a single official to wreck the career opportunities, for many, a once in a lifetime career opportunity for so many people.


So, I became a supporter of technology, now introduced with ball tracking to alert referees automatically of the ball crossing the goal line and was initially supportive of VAR when it was introduced. Football had become too important, with too much on the line to tolerate incompetent officiating.

I was particularly keen as VAR seemed to be a way of redressing the obvious bias of referees caving in to pressure from high profile clubs and managers, to consistently give the benefit of the doubt in any decision to the big clubs.

VAR has undeniably corrected errors, most notably in allowing Paqueta’s goal this season which would have been otherwise disallowed for offside.

Yet, some years in, it is clear, now, that the VAR experiment has not delivered as intended. Originally envisaged as an occasional check to prevent clear and obvious errors, which is refereeing howlers, it has now become a protracted review of not just every goal, but every disallowed goal for offside and also every red card offence, or potential upgrade from yellow to red car offence. This is not to mention the possibility of several penalty reviews.

So, it is possible that a high scoring 4-3 game, which should be exciting, has much of the joy and excitement sucked out of it. There will be hesitation to celebrate any goal, as there will be 7 VAR checks on each goal, and possibly further VAR checks on Offsides, penalties and so on.

Each agonising VAR check, rather than being a quick check to spot the clear and obvious error, instead becomes an excruciating forensic review.

All I want for Christmas is a one card VAR check

So, what is the way forward? We need to eliminate the obvious howlers and errors but retain spontaneous excitement. The answer to me is obvious. Football should take a lesson from both Baseball and Cricket who have each , successfully implemented the concept of team led decision review.

In cricket both the batter and bowler have the capacity to initiate a review of an umpire’s decision. However, there are two important caveats. In both sports there are a limited number of reviews allowed, and in these reviews the benefit of the doubt remains with the on-field Umpire.

The right to re-introduce a second review is retained if the original review is successful. If the review is unsuccessful the review is lost.

So, in my planned VAR reform Managers would have the right to wave an Orange VAR Card to review any current VAR review decision. That is, any goal including offside, penalty appeal, red card appeal, including additionally, second yellow leading to a red card.

However, they would only be allowed to do this on one occasion. If they lose that review, then that is it. If, however, the VAR appeal is successful they retain the right to introduce a second appeal.

This would undoubtedly allow more human errors to creep into the game, but lets face it, this is happening anyway. Even with VAR helping officials erors occur weekly with various pundits bemused by VAR decisions.

So, managers would have, as in Cricket, to put their money where their mouth is. If they think there is a clear and obvious error, they would have to play their VAR Card.

However, the experience in Cricket is that actually, despite the most vociferous of appeals, a bowler and Captain will not launch their VAR review until they are convinced they have a good enough case.
VAR appeals then become a matter of tension and interest, rather than a wearingly predictable review of speculative appeals for diving or handball and so on.

So in our 4-3 Game I imagined rather than having at least 7, possibly 10 or more VAR reviews, we would have a maximum of 2 or possibly 3.

Once a VAR review has occurred we can return to the excitement of old fashioned football where once a goal is scored you can genuinely celebrate, and not hang around in suspense for up to 3 minutes.

All I want for Christmas is a One Card Var Review.

David Griffith

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My Father, born in 1891 was brought up in the shadows of the Thames Ironworks Memorial Ground. I remember as a child jumping over the settee when Alan Sealy scored in our 1965 European Cup Winners triumph.

My first game was against Leicester in 1968, when Martin Peters scored what was adjudged by ITV’s Big Match as the Goal of the Season.

I became a season ticket holder in 1970.

I was registered blind in 1986 and thought my West Ham supporting days were over. However in 2010 I learnt about the fantastic support West Ham offer to Blind and other Disabled Supporters. I now use the Insightful Irons in-stadium commentary service and West Ham provide space for my Guide Dog Nyle.

I sit on the West Ham Disabled Supporters Board and the LLDC Built Environment Access Panel.

David Griffith aka Blind Hammer