Little did I think at the beginning of 2019 that I would end it being angry at the abuse of football by technology. I mean, really. Football is only a game, and there are one or two more important things going on.
But I am a bit concerned now that someone is going to get killed – probably a referee.
Referees are used to being disliked, and I’m sure they enjoy the amusing little ditties sung to them by peeved spectators – ditties of which “You don’t know what you’re doing” is the most common, and probably the only one quotable on a family website like this.
So what’s the problem? Decisions are being made about games in the Premiership by a monster called VAR, probably from the planet ZOG. Or as some would have it, “the morons inside Stockley Park”, which, in case you were wondering, is in Middlesex, not far from ZOG.
Good goals are being disallowed by machines that have no concept of the spirit of the game. And if you’re going to argue that the decisions are actually made by referees, those are the machines I’m talking about.
So we have technology that can draw lines on a screen fed by a multitude of camera angles, which enables referees miles away from the action and atmosphere of the actual game to pronounce that a scorer’s elbow or eyebrow is offside, and therefore a memorable goal cannot stand.
This is not the only example of technology enabling people to make incompetent judgements. Speed cameras: I say no more. But if you give someone technology that enables spooky action at a distance (to quote Einstein) the odds are that those in charge are going to want to demonstrate its wonderful accuracy, even if it isn’t accurate or wonderful.
Give a linesman (or assistant referee) a flag, and he will be inclined to wave it, even if he isn’t sure. Give the same official a complicated bit of technology and he will want to wave that too.
It’s not the technology that’s so bad: it’s the people using it. Why is there an offside rule in the first place? To stop players lingering upfield waiting for a long ball and forcing the opposing team to cover them – to the detriment of the game as a spectacle. It is not there to mention distances in inches, or millimetres, or toes.
If someone is not obviously offside, he should be judged onside. It’s as simple as that. More goals, more satisfaction, happier spectators.
A moderate and kindly friend who attended a recent game at which VAR reared its ugly head – and messed up yet again – told me they were so frustrated that they were on the verge of rushing on to the pitch, and so were many others. One day soon, it’s going to happen.
Don’t wait till the end of the season. Get rid of this monster now, before it’s too late.