Satire Saturday | VAR or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Satire Saturday | VAR or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

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This love affair all started long before VAR was actually introduced in the Premier League, with it making headlines all across Europe. But rumour has it, and rumours are always true just ask Real Madrid or Manchester United or Arsenal, that it started the day Neil Warnock starred down referees.

An intense and incredible stare was shared between Warnock, then manager of Cardiff City, and three referees after his side lost to Chelsea. Not the fluid, youngster playing and transfer banned Chelsea we watch now but the Maurizio Sarri version of Chelsea that won trophies and finished third in style. Somehow the fact that Cesar Azpilicueta’s entire body was offside failed to hit the linesman’s radar that changed the game and the rest is as they say history. Champions League history as Manchester City and Tottenham battled each other in a game that lacked any tactical ingenuity but gave way to pure and unadulterated attacking football.

Then Raheem Sterling scored an added-time winner, Pep Guardiola celebrated, the screen flashed for a historic VAR check and just like that out of nowhere, the love affair between VAR and the humans began. The fact that it added drama to a game that lacked dramatic moments helped its cause but the fact that it happened to Manchester City changed the way football operates. There seemed to be some hope left in the game which effectively gave the world licence to bring it into England and the rest of Europe. So welcome to VAR or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, a title that is an obvious rip-off from a movie.

It’s a classic case of overthinking and simply not learning to live with decisions that are within your control but at the same time just out of reach. Like Jurgen Klopp learnt after Jon Moss opted not to rule out Marcus Rashford’s goal despite the fact that there was a foul in the build up but the German managed to brush it off and show up to his post game presser with a smile. But in that passive-aggressive way that sent a shiver down your spine because it suggested that the Liverpool boss had a dark side to his equally happy-go-lucky side.

Like Geoff Shreeves learnt after he asked one too many questions about happiness, Liverpool, goals, Manchester City and effectively anything to do with a football game. Either way this is a masterclass to teach you or rather show you how to live with football despite the fact that your favourite pass-time is being enveloped by a group of killer robots that are here to stay. It’s called being blissfully ignorant in the face of danger and while there might be a fancier way to say it, for us simple folk that’s all it is. Something that Jose Mourinho has mastered in his short time as a football manager although at times it feels like the Spurs boss is the man running things.

He isn’t. He looks, acts and believes he does but like most of us mortals, even Jose Mourinho is at the beck and call of our overlords at Stockley Park. But it wasn’t all that bad at first especially when you read the VAR’s mission and vision statement. Their goal (vision) was to make football a slightly better game while their objective (mission) was to reverse clear and obvious errors while not being OCD about the whole thing. Something that we human believed would actually be possible. That VAR wouldn’t interrupt and turn football, our wonderful, fluid and flowing game, into a stop-start catastrophe that it can’t handle.

For sports that few care about like Cricket, NBA and even the NFL the stopping and starting gives way to something much better, advertisements but doing the same here rubs out the very essence of football. And that’s the way life started out and we humans eventually became comfortable with what should have been a scary intrusion into our lives but with social media already taking over, we seemed well adjusted. It’s the same story that’s been repeated for decades now in movies, video-games, TV shows, Netflix Originals and on a thousand other platforms. Will Smith has done like ten of these and it always ends the same way, with them taking over and him saving the world.

And that’s where the jokes ended and the chaos started but so what? So what if suddenly, as if by a magical wave of a wand the referees became subservient to their overlords at Stockley Park and then the world of football was plunged into a hole? John Lundstram’s big toe’s best friend was found offside, Roberto Firmino’s arm-pit hair was found offside, Nicolas Pepe’s legs were broken but no foul was given, Giovani Lo Celso dropped a bookcase, a car and then stamped on Cesar Azpilicueta’s leg but no foul was given, Sergio Ramos’ entire body was offside but his aura wasn’t and no foul was given.

But these matters not, for a year, a pandemic and other social issues down the line, has effectively rubbed out the effect that VAR has had. Did you see that? How smoothly we ignored the fact that this could very well become an issue that changes the way not just the current world sees football but how football itself could lose it’s very soul unless things change? Imagine the La Bombonera, which on matchdays is essentially a cacophony of noises all related to goals, and things that happen on the field. A quick YouTube search will show you how the stadium becomes an extension of human life. Add VAR into the mix and poof, but it doesn’t matter. Why?

Blissful ignorance because in our world, that doesn’t exist and while VAR continues to micro analyse the micro details of a sport that has far too many grey areas to do that, we ignore it and instead focus on the bright side. Because the technology has never been the problem, it is FIFA tested after all. The same organisation that hired Sepp Blatter to do things. Yes, the same man who said women’s football would be more popular if the players wore tighter shorts. But that’s beside the point because the technology has never been the problem, it is FIFA tested after all.

So, what if the moment you add the human element, the fact that England, and only England, refuse to use the monitors and so what if a 60 plus-year-old man has something to say about the problems that the Premier League are facing? 60 plus year-old men always have something to say but what if this one actually has something smart to say? What if FIFA does take over the implementation of the VAR from the IFAB (already done), and bring about changes to the rules (already done) and implement them without the use of a tough but battle-hardened referee’s association (data not found)? Or rather what-if the entire world does what the La Liga are doing?

Anything that helps Real Madrid win or rather anything that would seem unjust to Barcelona will be given. And since any decision that Real Madrid get is unjust in the eyes of Barcelona, all decisions are either given or not given. It’s Schrodinger’s VAR. And yet, for those of you that have actually stayed until this point of the masterclass, you would have understood one single fact. VAR is king, blissful ignorance is the way forward and anything else is simply nonsensical. And that’s a fact. Well, that and the fact that this message has been brought to you by those at Stockley Park and paid for by VAR in Spain, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, England and all across the world.

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