Author: Mark

FIFA’s Video Assistant Referees: How VAR Should They Go?

The Video Assistant Referees (VARs) experiment at the just-finished Under-20s World Cup in the Korean Republic was undoubtedly successful. As was the system itself, largely. Whether the people running it were as successful is a different matter…and possibly doesn’t matter. The primary object of any experiment is to subject its subject to vigorous, wide-ranging scrutiny, to determine how it would work under as many different circumstances as possible, and highlight any problems, potential or active. This experiment certainly did that. Amid the fabulous Eurosport commentary-box set-to during the Italy/Zambia quarter-final, one issue emerged above all. A poor overall understanding...

Read More

The FIFA Under-20s World Cup: A Final Reckoning

England’s finest footballing hour since 1966, claimed pundits who had only just discovered there WAS an Under-20s World Cup in the Korean Republic, let alone that England were the best team in it. Welcome, bandwagon jumpers. Anyway, I told you so. About how good Under-20s World Cups are and how England would win this one. Regular readers will know of, and be wearied by, my insistence that less-well-known international football tournaments have merited more attention than filling space on Eurosport when there’s no tennis, cycling or ski-ing on. So, while I’ll never need Danny Mills for vindication, it was...

Read More

FIFA Under 20s World Cup: Italy 3-2 Zambia

Eurosport co-commentator Stewart Robson knew. He usually does. “When you come to tournaments,” he noted, co-incidentally listing the ones for which Eurosport had UK broadcast rights, “you are looking for one of the great games. And this,” he added as Italy’s Under 20s World Cup quarter-final against Zambia approached extra-time, “could be it.” Commentator Tim Caple knew too. He usually does…and if he doesn’t Robson is always quick to tell him. “Up to 50 shots,” he gasped. “Almost unheard of.” And Zambia’s occasional “shoot-(impulsively-off-target)-on-sight” policy only contributed marginally to that stat. Italy/Zambia was better still for the significant and...

Read More

The FIFA Under-20s World Cup: Last 16 To Last 4

So, for all my talk of the diversity of successful nations at the FIFA Under-20s World Cup, we have one all-European and one all-South American semi-final. But what larks we’ve had getting there… Second Round Venezuela 1 Japan 0 (after extra-time, score at 90 minutes…well…guess) A match between two such intricate passing teams produced a winning goal of shocking simplicity, Yangel Herrera’s 108th-minute header from a corner with no defender on the post. Japan started slowly, as per, giving Adalberto Penaranda ample space for his trick-and-flicks. They MUST have spotted him, with all that peroxide-blond hair. And he NEEDS...

Read More

Video Assistant Referees: A Step Too VAR?

Graham Poll would have LOVED it. Every time there was a controversial incident, and he was hardly averse to them, the cameras would have been on him to see if he would refer it to the Video Assistant referees (VARs). And when decisions were reached, the cameras would still be on HIM as he strutted around (and he WOULD strut) making said decision clear. The VAR system is under full tournament trial in the World Under-20s Cup Finals, currently wowing about 3,000 people-per-game in the Korean Republic, now that the hosts are out. It was tested in last December’s...

Read More