Crossing a new refereeing rubicon, with help from Michael Owen

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2023-09-06 15:14:18  • 7 mins


While you could be forgiven for thinking there are few aspects of football more mind-numbingly tedious than longwinded discussions about the excruciating minutiae of refereeing decisions, they are a thriving industry. The first port of call for lazy TV presenters and pundits, they also provide endless hours of cheap content for sports radio stations and tea-time football emails. In the UK, Sky Sports and TNT both employ their own in-house former referees to pass their verdicts on the verdicts of their former colleagues. Occasionally interesting but largely pointless, these conversations do little more than further fuel the flames of fan paranoia that prompted some bright TV exec to air them for those sweet, sweet engagement metrics in the first place.

More often than not during such debates, vast tracts of airtime are devoted to the myriad shortcomings of VAR technology and the inadequacies or human frailties of the curtain-twitchers tasked with using it. Even Alanis Morissette could spot the irony, given that VAR was originally introduced to eliminate glaring officiating errors, not add to them. Indeed, such is its increasingly pernicious influence, that footballs laws are continuously being tailored to work in sync with the technology, when it should be the other way around. One suspects the irony of sprinting defenders having to put their arms behind their backs in unnatural positions in order to avoid being penalised for having their arms in unnatural positions wouldnt be lost on the songstress either.

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