James Milner is the latest Premier League star to criticise VAR technology, as he considers it to be ruining the atmosphere of matches and is confident many other players will agree with him.
Since its introduction at the start of the 2019/20 season, the technology has had its fair share of critics, from fans, pundits and players alike.
VAR was under the spotlight again for a questionable decision which ruled out what appeared to be a legitimate goal by Liverpool against Aston Villa earlier this month.
The Reds were trailing 1-0 at Anfield when Roberto Firmino found the back of the net, but after a second look Diogo Jota was deemed offside in the build-up play and the goal was chalked off.
In the replay, the Portugal star’s elbow appears to be in an offside position by the finest of margins, but there was an outcry on social media for how ‘ridiculous’ the decision was.
Taking to Twitter shortly after the controversial decision, BBC and BT Sport host Gary Lineker shared his thoughts, tweeting: ‘I’m sorry, but VAR gets more ridiculous by the day. How on earth can they say with any confidence that that is offside? Same as last night’s disallowed goal. Ridiculous.‘
VARs have been a thorn in Liverpool’s side this season, with statistics by ESPN showing the Reds have had a net total of six decisions go against them – the lowest on the list – with Burnley sitting atop the pile with a net total of five going in their favour. Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City aren’t far off, with a score of +3.
Speaking after the Reds’ 2-1 win over Villa, in which Jota was deemed offside in the build-up play of Firmino’s aforementioned strike, Milner didn’t mince his words when talking about the technology.
“I’m not a fan at all,” he’s quoted as saying by The Guardian.
“It might just be the old school part of me but I think there’s still too much debate around VAR. Goal-line technology is incredible. Instant decision. Black and white.
“But it’s very hard to use VAR when you’ve still got opinions on the decisions and the atmosphere is being ruined. You score, there’s an explosion of noise and then it’s VAR. You wait. Is it a goal?
“I think there’s use for it – if we can improve it. But football is a game of human error on the field and in officiating as well.
“If the VAR took away controversy I’d back it 100%. But we’re still having discussions about VAR. I don’t think many footballers feel differently.“
The overall concern with VAR is the clarity of its decision process, and the consistency of the personnel operating it. The technology has the potential to be a great step forward for officiating games, but there is room for improvement.
Mike Riley the general manager of PGMOL said, via the Independent: “We can get better consistency of decision making as VARs, we can improve timings for that minimum interference, and better quality decision making.
“There are significant things we can do to improve it. We can get better consistency in decision-making, we can improve the timings and if we achieve those – which we will over time – then what we’ll end up with is better quality decision-making that minimises the impact on the game.”