Opinion

FIFA gives A-League its blessing to get rid of hated VAR

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Australian football has been given a glorious opportunity to get rid of the VAR cancer that has been gnawing at the game's image and credibility for far too long.

Football Federation Australia introduced the system in April 2017 and after three years of A-League controversy and chaos, it is fair to say that the experiment has been a flop.

Not only has the technology failed to improve the overall decision-making by all that much but, in its pursuit of excellence, it has damaged the game as a free-flowing and spontaneous spectacle.

The VAR may have also been one of the reasons interest in the competition has declined.

A statement from FIFA last week has offered hope that the VAR can be given a red card when or if the current A-League season resumes.

The law-making International Football Association Board has announced that any member federation could do away with the VAR should it wish to do so, although it is unclear if the arrangement would apply to this fragmented season or beyond.

The move is designed to reduce the health risks associated with a group of people working in the confined space of a small studio.

"In relation to competitions in which the video assistant referee system is implemented, these competitions are permitted to cease its use upon restart at the discretion of each individual competition organiser," the statement read.

In any case, there you have it. The A-League, all alone in front of goal, has been given a wonderful opportunity to score the winner and all it has to do is tap the ball into the net ... widespread celebrations would be guaranteed.

Premier League clubs are debating whether to follow FIFA's lead but the A-League should have no qualms about returning to a tried and trusted system whereby referees actually control games on the field and not from some bunker a thousand kilometres away.

You know, same as they have been doing rather successfully for more than a century.

Now that we have seen what angst and frustration VAR has caused to the game, we should accept once and for all that mistakes, whether they are made by players or referees, are part and parcel of the game and the fans and media should be more tolerant of any officials who occasionally get it wrong.

Yours truly has been an outspoken critic of the standard of Australian referees for a long time ... and not without reason, mind you.

Yet if officials are entrusted with the responsibility of making up their own mind, encouraged not to take the easy way out by inviting technology to do their job (usually after a lengthy delay) and not be made scapegoats by coaches and players for their own failings, our refs could go about their business in the knowledge and assurance that they would not spark 'world war three' if they fail to see a blatant penalty or disallow a goal from offside.

It is amazing how well any one can perform when allowed to do his or her job without too much scrutiny or pressure. It's called trust.

We should all recognise that referees' decisions around the world are usually 95 per cent correct and for this we should all be grateful, even though teams that lose matches due to a ref's blatant blunder might not be inclined to do so.

The VAR, which is believed to cost the clubs about $100,000 a season to run, is just not worth the collateral damage it is causing the game for a lousy five per cent improvement.

There are more pressing issues surrounding Australian football but hopefully FFA and/or the A-League see it this way, too.