This seasons introduction of Video Assisted Replay (VAR) was implemented in the hopes of improving officiating decisions across the Serie A.
However, the debate continues on whether or not the newly implemented technology will do more harm then good when it comes to improving the overall quality of matches.
Leading into the 2017/2018 Serie A season there was much debate as to whether VAR would be the best way to improve officiating in Serie A. VAR has the power to confirm or deny four possible game changing decisions; penalties being awarded, mistaken identity, red cards, and goals. While it can easily be argued that use of VAR will assist in making life easier for officials in Serie A, the use of instant replay in Calcio has the ability to take away the soul of the game. Over the past weekend VAR was used in multiple matches across Serie A. We saw VAR in four matches across the league: the sending off of Crotone’s Federico Ceccherini in their 3-0 defeat to AC Milan, awarding a penalty to Cagliari in its defeat to at Juventus, allowing Napoli’s opening goal at Hellas Verona to stand, and twice in Inter Milan’s victory over Fiorentina at San Siro. While many players including Juventus’s Gianluigi Buffon have vocally supported the use of VAR there have been others who speculate that VAR kills off any sort of flow within the game.
Buffon on the use of VAR in Serie A:
“The introduction of the VAR will help not to aggravate everyone, it will make it so that everyone including spectators will react calmly to every type of decision made by the referee. If technology is needed to improve sportsmanship, that it is welcome. We should not fear it”
Personally, I believe that the Lega Serie A has the right intentions when it chose to implement video technology within the league. However, soccer is a sport that lives off the flow of the game and spirited debates. Controversial calls and instant decisions by the referee have been part of the game since the beginning of time. To be fair, VAR does offer the ability to eliminate wrong calls within the game and save fans, players, and coaches the stress of complaining about the outcome of the match being determined by poor officiating, or does it? For example this weekend we saw Fiorentina’s Giovanne Simeone go down under a challenge from Inter’s Miranda but penalty appeals were waved away by head referee Paolo Tagliavento after the use of VAR. Tagliavento relied on video replay to determine the call on the field and did not review the replay himself. Following the match there were complaints from Simeone and Pioli.
Pioli on the non-penalty call by Tagliavento:
“I thought that, seeing as there was doubt, it is possible Tagliavento should have gone and looked at the images himself. I think looking at the images there was a foul by Miranda”
This penalty appeal in the Inter-Fiorentina match is a perfect example of as to how VAR can kill off the momentum of a match, as Fiorentina seemed frustrated and out of rhythm following the referee’s decision. In addition it proves that even when VAR is put to use, there will still be someone who disagrees with the call regardless of the fact that instant replay was used to help assist in making the supposedly correct decision. As technology continues to become an important asset in multiple professional sports leagues across the globe, there was no doubt that it would eventually makes its way to Serie A. However, has useful as some say VAR may be to improving the officiating decisions throughout the league, it also possesses a great danger to killing off the spirit and flow of matches across Italy.