FA introduces key VAR change for A-Leagues finals


Football Australia has announced a landmark move with the upcoming A-Leagues finals campaign to feature the use of live VAR to improve the fans’ experience of the decision making process.

The lack of explanation of decisions to fans in the ground has long been an issue with VAR. In an Asian Football Conference first, A-Leagues fans will hear the rationale behind decisions and the on-field referee declare their final decision.

The intention is to obviously remove that awful feeling that often occurs when fans are oblivious to the basis on which a goal or off-side decision has been reversed; as they furiously gesticulate based on no evidence other than what they see on the big screen.

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Sure, there are moments where a little explanation might indeed calm down a few football folk prone to getting a little fired up in the bleachers, yet is this additional emphasis on technology so hated by many in the game, set to be a beneficial move from the powers at be?

It comes off the back of the Swedish Football Association’s desire to remain the only nation in the top 30 European leagues to yet implement VAR.

In typically thoughtful Scandinavian-style, domestic fans expressed their detest at its potential involvement and a vast majority of the clubs have now heard the sentiment and voted not to bow to international pressure and norms.

If you were wondering just how firm the Swedish fans are on their stance, the words of a leading figure within one of the country’s biggest supporter organisations provide the answer, “VAR is a symbol of modern, commercialised-to-the-point-of-destruction football,” says Ola Thews, vice-chairman of ASK.

Whilst many Australians feel precisely the same way. It appears Football Australia is heading firmly down a different path, a trend across many issues that continually frustrates domestic fans.

No matter how big or small the voice is when it comes to expressing a dislike for VAR, the governing body powers ahead amidst weekly disasters and embarrassing blunders around which they must then pick up the pieces.

Referees will always make mistakes, yet when Football Australia is rescinding red cards based on a decision made by VAR, the true farce that lies before us is clear.

Former SBS journalist Philip Micallef knows more about football than the collective intelligence of the people at Football Australia, as does former football writer at The Australian newspaper and one of the most respected voices in the game Ray Gatt.

Both are astounded at what football has been allowed to become; one full of muted celebrations and reversed decisions that take much of the natural and instinctive beauty away from a game that relies heavily on those few and brilliant moments.

Other sports use technology, knowing that there is likely another score or moment right around the corner. Heaven forbid, there are 540 balls in a day of Test cricket, north of 20 goals scored in most AFL matches and tries galore in high scoring modern day rugby and rugby league games.

There is always something to cheer and something else to get excited about in a moment or two’s time.

Football is different and now, after suffering through wasted time, poor decisions and a more sterile game after the introduction of VAR in 2016/17, a further layer will be added to something most A-League fans want to do without.

Of course, the Football Australia spin will be considerable and already has been.

“It’s exciting to be able to introduce this technology with Football Australia in time for the Isuzu UTE A-League Men Finals Series to bring fans closer to the game we all love, whether they are in the stadium or watching from home”, said A-League Commissioner Nick Garcia.

Aside from the fact that no changes should be made leading into the most crucial month of the season, I’d argue that Garcia’s comment is in fact the antithesis of the reality, with fans instead being potentially pushed away from the game rather than drawn towards it.

But that is what our beloved Football Australia does and I’d love to know exactly who the real winners are out of such a decision.

The one thing I can guarantee is that it will not be the A-League fans, whatever the suits might say.

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