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VAR may have to go amid Premier League, Champions League controversies, says Anderton

SoccerNews in English Premier League 29 Nov 2023

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VAR will have to be removed from football if officials cannot find ways to use the technology more effectively, says former England midfielder Darren Anderton.

The use of video assistant referees has come under the spotlight this season, with a series of high-profile errors marring games in the Premier League and across Europe.

In September, Luis Diaz was incorrectly denied a goal in Liverpool’s loss to Tottenham due to a “significant human error” which refereeing body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) subsequently apologised for.

Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta made headlines when he described the decision to allow Newcastle United’s winning goal against Arsenal as a “disgrace”, while Wolves boss Gary O’Neil said he had “finally turned against VAR” on Monday after Fulham were awarded two highly contentious penalties against his team.

There was also controversy in the Champions League on Tuesday as Newcastle’s Tino Livramento was harshly penalised for handball, allowing Kylian Mbappe to score a stoppage-time equaliser from the spot as Paris Saint-Germain rescued a 1-1 draw against the Magpies.

While Anderton believes VAR was brought in for the right reasons, he cited frustrating delays after goals and repeated mistakes as reasons why many wish to see the back of it.

“I would have [liked VAR] in the FA Cup semi-final in 1993 when I got brought down!” Anderton, who was part of a Tottenham side beaten by Arsenal on that occasion, told Stats Perform.

“I think it’s a good thing and the idea of it is good, to make the right decisions, but it’s not happening and that’s a problem.

“There is nothing better than scoring a goal and you should be able to celebrate it and not worry that it’s going to be chalked off.

“I feel like it’s almost at a point now that whenever there’s a goal scored, you’re looking for something for it to be ruled out. I think that’s sad.

“I think that’s sad for players to have to be that way because the adrenaline of scoring a goal in a Premier League game or for your country… there is no better feeling.

“If it’s taken away, it’s taken away, but when you’ve got to stand there for three minutes, four minutes, you’ve got to be able to celebrate those moments. They’re what you play the game for.

“So unless it gets better, they’re going to have to get rid of it, and that’s wrong, because you do want the right decisions in football games.”

While the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has been discussing expanding VAR’s remit to include other incidents such as yellow cards and corners, Anderton has a different idea.

He suggested VAR should be part of a challenge system similar to that used in the NFL, saying: “I don’t know whether you just go to a point where now, like in American football, managers get a challenge.

“You get two or three challenges in the match so it doesn’t become a hundred-minute football match. It’s pretty crazy, and it’s frustrating to watch. I’m with everyone on that.”

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