VAR set to ruin World Cup after Australian experiment fail

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The Video Assistant Referee will feature at the World Cup but it will be a complete disaster if its trial in Australia is anything to go by

Dear The World,

Trust us - the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is going to ruin the World Cup in Russia.

Love, Australia.

The A-League wouldn't mean much to the regular football fan worldwide. Some may know it as where Alessandro Del Piero landed after Juventus, or the league where Dwight Yorke and Robbie Fowler migrated to in their late 30s.

But the Australian domestic league was the first professional competition to use the VAR in a competitive match in April 2017, with a trial of the technology being adopted for the A-League since it's introduction.

After announcing that VAR is set to be part of the World Cup, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the technology is 'almost perfect'.

"I would say to the fans, players and coaches that it will have an impact, a positive impact. That is what the results of the study show," Infantino said.

"From almost 1,000 live matches that were part of the experiment, the level of the accuracy increased from 93% to 99%. It's almost perfect."

Clearly the Swiss-Italian administrator didn't take much notice of the reaction to the VAR trial Down Under in Australia.

In fact, you will struggle to find a positive word about the trial from any fan, player, coach or journalist involved in Australian football.

Yes, some incorrect decisions have been overturned. But the issue is with the process - firstly with the length of time it takes when the VAR is used.

Regularly a VAR intervention has caused a break in play for minutes, causing fans to become frustrated and restless, but also meaning a team can lose pressure and momentum it had been building against its opposition.

Just on the weekend we saw Argentine star Ezequiel Lavezzi miss a penalty for Chinese side Hebei China Fortune after a three minute, 45 second break caused by the VAR.

In addition to time issues, the VAR is also causing angst with the type of decisions it is making.

Obviously clear-cut offsides and fouls are easy for the VAR to adjudicate on, but what about decisions that require interpretation? Isn't the game just being re-refereed in this case?

Central Coast Mariners coach Paul Okon made his feelings clear on the system after two of his players were sent off by it during a match in December.

"If you came to this game tonight and you left here no longer in love with football, who could blame you?” Okon said post-match.

"I think it’s probably what everyone is talking about and that’s not the reason why people are turning up watching - it’s not why we turn up to play and coach."

The sentiment was echoed, with a little less emotion, by Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino at the start of this month.

After there were three VAR interventions in the first half of Spurs FA Cup victory over Rochdale, Pochettino warned the VAR in its current form will not help football and that the fans are not happy about it.

Video Assistant Referee

"The first half was embarrassing for everyone. I am not sure that the system [VAR] is going to help," the Argentine said in his post-match press conference.

"We love the game that we know. Football is about emotion, we want to keep the emotion. The fans are not so happy about what they have seen today.

"But if my opinion is important, there is a lot of work to do [with the VAR]. We need to talk, to explain. Because today every one of us was confused.

"This will not help the football. If we use this system we need to be sure."

Unfortunately for the football world, Infantino and other football administrators seem to be so sure, while the majority of other stakeholders are wary.

Imagine if Cristiano Ronaldo is sent off in a World Cup semi-final for a borderline challenge deemed by the officiating referee to be a yellow card, but a red card by the VAR?

Imagine a World Cup final blighted by four or five lengthy, confusing VAR stoppages?

From the wave of critics in Australia to esteemed personalities such as Pochettino to countless examples of fan frustration to headline-grabbing issues - all the evidence points to a VAR system that is not even close to perfect.

So why is it going to be used at football's showpiece event?

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