The controversial VAR decision during the match between Newcastle and Arsenal has sparked fierce debate about the use of video review technology. In a gripping encounter on October 4th at St. James’ Park, Anthony Gordon’s lone goal dealt a significant blow to Arsenal, terminating their unbeaten streak and pushing Newcastle United into sixth place in the Premier League standings. The match was not without controversy, as the pivotal goal scored by Gordon was mired in contention due to a potential oversight by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system of the match, Newcastle’s match-winning goal was allowed to stand despite Arsenal’s strong appeals for a foul in the buildup.
The goal stemmed from a Newcastle free kick. Upon video review, it appeared that Newcastle striker Callum Wilson pushed Arsenal defender Gabriel in the back before heading the ball across for teammate Joe Willock to score against his boyhood club. However, after a lengthy VAR check lasting nearly 4 minutes, the goal was allowed to stand, with the review system judging there was not enough of an infringement to warrant overturning the on-field decision.
Understandably, this sparked massive outrage from Arsenal players, staff, and supporters, who felt aggrieved by the decision. Arsenal’s manager Mikel Arteta was notably incensed by VAR’s refusal to rule out Newcastle’s decisive goal. The VAR check, which took over four minutes, was complex and looked at three different potential infringements but ultimately let the goal stand. This incident adds to a series of contentious VAR decisions involving Arsenal this season, leaving fans and pundits calling for clarity and consistency in the application of the technology.
The debate surrounding VAR has been reignited again, with the system coming under scrutiny for its role in the outcome of this match. This particular incident, where a potentially pivotal decision by the officials on the pitch seemed to be inadequately reviewed by VAR, raises questions about the technology’s effectiveness and consistency.
Should VAR be banned or redeveloped?
While VAR has its merits in eliminating clear officiating mistakes, its implementation needs refinement. Situations like this demonstrate the flaws of VAR usage:
- VAR checks are taking too long, creating unnecessary delays that disrupt the match flow of the beautiful game as seen yesterday and during the last World Cup.
- There is still too much subjectivity involved, as different officiating crews can have different judgments on similar incidents.
- VAR is failing to provide the clear and definitive guidance it was introduced for, instead creating more disputes.
On the other hand, the principle of VAR is sound aiming to provide a safety net for clear and obvious errors. However, its implementation has been less than perfect, leading to widespread frustration. Banning it would be a step backward, ignoring the positive changes it has brought in terms of fair play. Instead, redevelopment focusing on improving consistency, transparency, and the speed of decision-making should be the way forward.
In the spirit of the beautiful game, it’s crucial that we improve the tools designed to uphold its integrity, rather than discard them altogether.
Football authorities need to establish clearer protocols and enhance training for VAR officials. This will help achieve a more consistent and transparent implementation of VAR, restoring faith in the system. But until the flaws are properly addressed, controversial decisions like the one during Newcastle vs Arsenal Tottenham vs Liverpool and Chelsea vs Arsenal will keep undermining VAR’s purpose.