As all football fans know, technology on the field has become more advanced, and many people feel that it has destroyed the spirit of the game. Before technology took over the game, people from all over the world would talk about their thoughts and opinions on decisions made by referees, whether it was fair or not. Now, the referees can just use the VAR to make callouts and the heated discussions would end.
PROBLEM WITH TECHNOLOGY
I still remember when I was watching my favourite team Manchester City play against Tottenham in the Champions league. Sterling scored a last minute goal and would be sending City to the quarters but the referee checked the VAR for offside and Aguero was barely in breach; it was so close that it could have gone either way but the referee disallowed the goal anyway. My friends and I were all gutted. Our team would have gone further in the tournament if this happened before VAR was invented none of this would have happened. This is another reason I feel that technology being introduced into football is not a good idea. Ultimately, the regulation of VAR is the problem. Technology is always correct but rules about how it is used mean that it has certain limitations in every sport. It sounds like I dislike VAR because my team lost but I am not the only fan whose team has been robbed by VAR.
It’s not just football fans that dislike the VAR concept, but tennis fans also. My friends who love tennis were mad as the Australian Open had no line judges but relied entirely on Hawk-Eye to make the call about whether a ball was in or out. This took away the spectacle of only using it for when players challenged a line judge’s call. That engagement with the crowd and the suspense as Hawk-Eye was shown produced a response from the audience rather than sitting, simply watching, in their seats.
Furthermore, sports like Australian Rules Football use technology to check goals whereas before you trusted the umpires. Now, it’s used frequently when the decision of the umpire is generally correct but they want to make sure anyway. It slows the game down and moves away from what the governing body wants to do – speed the game up and play a faster, more dynamic brand of football.
ICONIC MOMENTS RUINED
Additionally, once technology finally takes over there will be no more iconic moments happening. For example, one of the most iconic moments in football is Maradona’s hand of god. This would not happen if VAR was invented back then. The referee would have seen that the ball hit Maradona’s hand. If that goal did not happen, his second goal, considered to be the best goal in the World Cup, may not have happened as well. But now with the VAR, you won’t have people talking about tournament defining moments like this anymore as things are not as controversial and interesting. You begin to lose the great sports moments that fans live for. In fact, I’m sure that any football fan worth his salt will be able to tell you about this particular example.
Another event, the Amstel Gold Race, was one of the closest races in recent memory, with one of the most talked about outcomes. Three men were out in front, the one leading was Wout van Aert, followed by Tom Pidcock and Max Schachmann. With 200m left, Van Aert put on a spurt of energy and sprinted for the finish tightly followed by Pidcock on his right. Reaching the finishing line, they threw their bikes forward. It took ten minutes for them to watch the TV footage in freeze frame detail before making their controversial decision: Van Aert had won. Weeks after and crowds still can’t come to a definitive conclusion about who won the race since the footage seemed to show two different things. Technology had ruined the moment.
SUSPENSE, ARGUMENTS, DESPAIR AND JOY
Whenever I watch football games now and referee calls all depend on the VAR, it reminds me of the times when it takes the magic out of the games. Those initial pits of despair or highs of a win aren’t even real anymore until it’s confirmed by technology.
In a nutshell, I feel that VAR has been helpful, but has also been taking the magic out of the game. Technology can be polarising, and it sometimes is good for the game but you miss out on the arguments, the iconic moments, the memories. While technology will be integrated into all sports slowly, we should never forget that sports are for us, humans, not robots. Therefore, despite the introduction of tech, we must strive to maintain that human aspect of our favourite pastimes.