VAR: Who Is to Blame?

You know why that artwork is unnecessarily large? Well that's because 90min's Who Is to Blame? series is largely unnecessary.

Everybody wants to blame someone for something. And VAR has come along in the past couple of years and doubled the debate it was meant to halve.

It's been meddling with football beyond belief since it was introduced in the Champions League for the 2018/19 knockout stages and everyone bloody hates it.

Teams everywhere have been the victims of a marginal offside or a bizarre handball decision, as referees stare into monitors (we had to make them do this, btw) and watch the action back from a multitude of angles, in slow motion. Any advantage gained became largely irrelevant.

So what better way to get to the very root of the VAR issue than with 90min's tried and tested Who Is to Blame? series. Having already settled the handball law, the Barcelona crisis and Manchester United's slow start to the 2019/20 season among others, there's no more efficient way to suss out where it's all gone wrong.

We have 30 prime suspects.

30. Juliet Stevenson in Bend it Like Beckham

The mum in Bend it Like Beckham initially struggled with the offside rule | Dave Benett/Getty Images

Juliet Stevenson thought she was simplifying everything for us in Bend it Like Beckham when she iconically explained: "The offside rule is when the French mustard has to be between the teriyaki sauce and the sea salt."

But for some people, this was just too much to comprehend. A single assistant referee could surely not be trusted with such a complex law. Technology was needed to help out.

Blame rating: 0.1/10

29. Joey from Friends

Season 4 Joey GIF by Friends - Find & Share on GIPHY

Joey Tribbiani has a history in Who Is to Blame? - and with good reason.

When confronting Chandler in season four episode seven (The One Where Chandler Crosses the Line) The Friends character unknowingly uttered the phrase that every referee now repeats to strikers when delivering a marginal VAR offside call.

"You're so far past the line, you can't even see the line - the line is a dot to you!"

Blame Rating: 0.2/10

28. The bald community

Henry is a previous beneficiary of a lack of technology | Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Thierry Henry was a huge beneficiary of a lack of VAR when, in 2009, he got away with handling the ball in the build up to France's winner against the Republic of Ireland, sending his country to the 2010 World Cup at the Irish's expense.

In contrast, in 2005 Roy Carroll fumbled Pedro Mendes's 50-yard effort into his own net, only for the goal to not be given as the officials did not spot that it had crossed the line.

Henry benefitted from the lack of technology, Mendes did not. The one difference between the pair? Mendes has a full head of hair. Case closed.

Blame rating: 0.25/10

27. Richard Keys

Keys has got to shoulder some of the responsibility | Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The beIN Sports presenter is not a VAR advocate.

"VAR is not working," Key wrote in his blog in December 2019. "It hasn’t brought anything positive to the game. It won’t. It can’t."

But when Keys disagrees with something, doesn't it make you want to agree and persist with it a little bit more?

Blame Rating: 0.3/10

26. Pierluigi Collina

A perfect refereeing specimen | FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

The main reason? For being too good.

We're adding fuel to the fire of our bald community theory here.

Collina is widely considered the greatest referee of all time. He possessed the keen attention to detail of VAR, but with that sweet, sweet human common sense.

The Italian set standards that no other human referee could possibly replicate. Technology was deemed necessary to keep up.

Blame rating: 0.5/10

25. Robin Thicke & Pharrell Williams

Williams and Thicke unknowingly wrote a song about the offside rule | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams penned the controversial hit Blurred Lines in 2013. It appears the refereeing community also found the lyrics problematic - but for completely different reasons to everybody else.

Football's law making body clearly interpreted the song to be about the offside law - "I hate these blurred lines" - and thought, we hear you loud and clear. And out came the rulers and the VAR, and the blurred offside lines were suddenly objective and measurable.

Blame rating: 1/10

24. Peter Walton

What would Walton be doing for work without VAR? | Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Football laws used to be relatively simple. Offside could sometimes be a little bit wordy and confusing - but this was nothing that Juliette Stevenson couldn't solve.

But with the introduction of VAR, refereeing decisions are becoming an analysis point every week. We need an expert in the studio to make sense of what we're watching...

Peter Walton, though?

What we don't need is a charisma vacuum sitting in a studio agreeing with every decision a referee ever makes, only to look foolish seconds later as the call goes the opposite way to what he thinks is right.

VAR is probably earning Mr. Walton a lovely bit of pocket money mind, so good on him.

Blame Rating: 1.2/10

23. The Industrial Revolution

VAR all stems from humans' growing reliance on technology. The computers, the pitch side monitors, the multiple camera angles - we love overcomplicating a game that is actually very simple.

What was responsible for the technological boom? The 18th century Industrial Revolution. Bring back the agricultural economy, peasants and two social classes and return the game to the people.

Blame Rating: 1.5/10

22. Bill Gates

Here he is, our Bill. | Getty Images/Getty Images

The man who took technology up a level.

We know he's quite busy right now tracking people via vaccination, but that doesn't mean he hasn't got time to have his wicked way with Premier League football.

Blames Rating: 1.6/10

21. The inconvenient shape of the human body

There have been multiple marginal offside decisions thanks to VAR | Michael Steele/Getty Images

Why do humans have to have arms and elbows and toes sticking out all over the place? Had we evolved to be nice and straight and flat, assistant referees would have a much easier time of it judging offside calls.

Darwin clearly didn't have Law 11 of the Association Football Laws of the Game in mind when he was penning his little theory.

Blame Rating: 2/10

20. The ruler

Stationary can be oh so cruel | THIERRY ZOCCOLAN/Getty Images

Rulers are very much stationary's answer to Roy Hodgson, dating back to 2650 BCE.

A simple piece of equipment, they're a key cog in the VAR fun sponge machine, drawing those lines that we all find oh so infuriating. Just give Stockley Park a compass and let them have a bit of fun.

Blame Rating: 2.5/10

19. Human error

Why must humans make mistakes? | Michael Regan/Getty Images

If human referees had the decency to never make a mistake there'd be no need for this f*cking technology in the first place.

Blame Rating: 2.8/10

18. Public schools

VAR has been brought in to satisfy the rule sticklers. But the rules wouldn't even be there to be stickled had it not been for the 19th century public school boys who brought in the codified set of football laws in the first place.

Previously, football had been the game for the working classes - no rules, no regulations, just hundreds of players, a massive pitch, a pig's bladder and absolutely no need for VAR.

Let's just go back to those rules, I reckon? Because football is a game for the people!

Blame Rating: 3.2/10

17. The Tories

The Prime Minister probably has bigger fish to fry at the moment | WPA Pool/Getty Images

VAR was introduced in the UK under a Conservative government. Can Priti Patel consider sending the technology to Ascension Island, please?

Blame Rating: 3.5/10

16. Frank Lampard's ghost goal against Germany

A VAR catalyst? | Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

VAR stemmed from the success of goal line technology, and the straw that broke the camel's back regarding goal line technology's introduction was Lampard's infamous goal that never was at the 2010 World Cup.

Imagine if Chelsea's most iconic manager Super Frankie Lampard had found the top corner or row Z instead? We'd still have faith in assistant referees.

Blame Rating: 4/10

15. Frank Lampard in general

Tick, tick and tick | Michael Regan/Getty Images

See the above three entries.

Blame Rating: 4.1/10

14. Mike Dean

Deano can't get enough of the monitor | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It's the drama Mike, I just love it.

Referees are largely being stitched up by the law changes and VAR - but we reckon Mike Dean can't help but love the extra drama, power and inflated sense of importance.

See how his chest swells when he walks over to the monitor and places his finger to his ear.

Blame Rating: 4.2/10

13. The Dutch

The Netherlands were the first to trial VAR | BSR Agency/Getty Images

VAR was first trialled in football during the 2012/13 Eredivisie season as part of a project by the Royal Netherlands Football Association. Just look what they've unleashed.

This one's on the Netherlands unfortunately. Johan Cruyff, Vincent van Gogh, Arjen Robben, Martin Garrix. You're all at fault.

Blame Rating: 4.5/10

12. Cricket

Cricket was the first sport to use Hawk Eye | Graham Crouch/Getty Images

The sport that experimented with technology in the first place.

Hawk-Eye was first used during England's Test match with Pakistan in May 2001 for pure, simple, innocent LBW calls and has been wholeheartedly successful.

And just look where that's got us.

Blame Rating: 4.8/10

11. The people who exposed Sepp Blatter as morally bankrupt

Blatter was never a fan of technology | FABRICE COFFRINI/Getty Images

Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter was quite a flawed man. He was also very anti technology - goal line technology was ignored for years during his tenure at the helm of football's governing body.

He eventually caved to goal line technology, but VAR was still a big no go for Blatter. Then in 2015 he was forced out of office for corruption allegations and VAR was welcomed with open arms. Come back, Sepp. We'll pay you.

Blame Rating: 5/10

10. Those weird referees that stood behind the goal for a couple of seasons

Gone but never forgotten | DAMIEN MEYER/Getty Images

Additional assistant referees were introduced in the 2009/10 Europa League group stages, and made their debut in the 2011/12 Champions League as - as far as we're aware - a work experience scheme to tackle unemployment.

But they didn't give decisions - they'd occasionally point at things a bit, but because of their sheer ineffectiveness they've now been replaced by robots.

Blame Rating: 5.5/10

9. Hawk-Eye

Hawk Eye is great in tennis | Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Listen, the technology is really top draw. Goal line technology? Incredible stuff (Bournemouth aside).

But did the Hawk-Eye lot have to be so smart and create a technology that should supposedly eradicate debate around decisions - and yet we've never been debating decisions more.

Blame Rating: 6/10

8. Fickle football fans

Blame Rating: 6.5/10

7. The 21st century's unattainable standards of perfection

John Moss is as close to perfection as we can get without technology | Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Mistakes are okay. But the edited, airbrushed world of social media has resulted in us setting these flawless standards for ourselves. We couldn't settle for the naked eye and occasional refereeing errors. Now everything - even subjective decisions - has to be correct by the millimetre.

VAR is football's Instagram filter.

Blame Rating: 6.7/10

6. Gianni Infantino

Gianni Infantino is a big VAR advocate | Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

As Sepp Blatter's tenure at the Fifa helm came to an end, Gianni Infantino ushered in a new era.

The new Fifa president welcomed VAR with open arms, giving the technology the green light in 2016. It appeared at the Club World Cup that year and at the World Cup in 2018 - and Infantino has continued to defend VAR despite its divisive nature.

Blame Rating: 7/10

5. The Nokia brick for not satisfying our technological needs

Simpler times | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Referees have always made mistakes. But now modern technology is too good; with the internet, TV, social media, instant replays and multiple camera angles, people in the ground will be able to see things that officials can't.

VAR has been brought in to protect referees from mistakes that supporters in the stadium can see instantly.

Bring back the glory days of the Nokia brick, predictive text and snake and everything would be so much simpler.

Blame rating: 7.5/10

4. Stockley Park

The implementation of VAR has been an issue | NORBERTO DUARTE/Getty Images

Is the technology the problem or is it the implementation of the technology that's the problem? That seems to be part of the issue in the Premier League.

The technology should be there to eradicate human error. But it's being controlled by humans. And these particular Stockley Park humans seem to have a lack of empathy for the basic nuances of football, its rhythm, emotion and spontaneity.

Is it possible that the robots are being powered by humans, but those humans are also in fact robots? Possibly. I'm not sure robots are able to do emotion yet, are they? What year are we in?

Blame Rating: 8/10

3. The Premier League's language nuances

The Premier League's VAR regulations leave a lot to be desired | Pool/Getty Images

In a 2020 guide to VAR, the Premier League wrote: "What qualifies as a “clear and obvious error”? In testing, there was no unanimity."

So there's no clear and obvious consensus on what constitutes clear and obvious? Fantastic.

Blame Rating: 8.5/10

2. Fifa

Oh Fifa | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Fifa took over responsibility for VAR from the IFAB in 2020 and are now in charge of the VAR protocol.

Fifa are technically not responsible for the laws of the game and the initial implementation of VAR - that's down to IFAB. Fifa just have members who are represented on the International Football Association Board and hold 50% of the voting power.

Blame Rating: 9/10

1. The International Football Association Board

Fifa hold 50 % of the voting power on the International Football Association Board | JOE KLAMAR/Getty Images

IFAB are football's law making body, and they wrote VAR into the laws of the game in March 2018, complete with the slogan 'minimum interference, maximum benefit' - which I think we can all agree has worked an absolute treat.

They also adjusted the definition of the handball law in 2019 in an attempt to make it less subjective, effectively scrapping the notion of 'accidental handball' - and VAR has subsequently had a field day with this law interpretation.

Blimey, what a mess.

Blame Rating: 10/10

Source : 90min