Var is ruining football – we must limit its influence now

Forget getting rid of Var. Too much has been invested in it to throw it all away. Fifa loves it and is determined to make it work. The issue is not the technology. It is the way it is being used.

We should not become ‘anti-technology’ because of the Var problems. Nobody has a bad word to say about goal-line technology, for example. It was a fantastic innovation. Now we can see clearly whether the ball has crossed the line. It is black and white, and waiting for the referee’s signal adds to the drama. The whole process is quick and unobtrusive.

The challenge for those running Var is to significantly reduce the level of interference in the others key areas; offsides, penalties and red cards.

Used correctly, Var can work. The automated offside system used by Uefa is far superior to that used in the Premier League. English football needs to get on board with that right away.

I understand the frustration from fans having to wait before celebrating goals, but the pluses outweigh the minuses because offside is also black and white. There would be uproar if a player were three yards offside in a hugely consequential game but the goal was given.

But goal technology and offside is where we should draw the line, so to speak.

For me, the biggest issues to be addressed moving forward is how Var deals with penalties and red cards. The officials watching on TV are too busy getting involved where there is no compulsion to do so.

In particular, there needs to be an urgent rethink to reduce the number of sendings off.

A red card used to be an event in itself. I attended the 1985 FA Cup final when Kevin Moran became the first to be sent off in that fixture after a professional foul on Peter Reid. The threshold was so high, it was a rarity.

Now it is more surprising if a high-profile fixture finishes with 22 players on the pitch.

The introduction of Var has contributed to an increase in the number of cards being shown, as well as having led to the recent clampdown on time-wasting.

There were 30 red cards in the Premier League last season. Eleven games in, there have already been 25. Is the game more ill-disciplined? No. The use of Var is a negative influence here. As neutrals, we do not want unnecessarily uneven contests.

We have to accept that football is unlike other sports and the speed and pace of a game in the stadium feels much different than on television.

That is the most infuriating consequence of red-card challenges and penalties – particularly handballs – being determined by Var seconds after the event.

Look at Marcus Rashford’s sending off in the Champions League on Wednesday night. The referee was in the perfect position five yards away, with the ideal angle to make a decision in real time. Slow motion and still images are not the right indicator of what happens at full speed. Football is not played in slow motion.

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