Category: Politics

VARs: The Pundits Results Are In

Sky News Health Correspondent Paul Kelso clearly and obviously retains many Twitter followers from his years as one of the country’s best national newspaper football writers. “Bored with VAR,” he tweeted on Wednesday, as Chelsea’s FA Cup third-round replay with Norwich gave the BBC their first opportunity to hopelessly mis-analyse VARs (Video Assistant Referees). Within 15 minutes, however, Kelso’s followers’ football discourse forced him to “actually turn on the game to see what fuss about.” To which one wag (me) responded “Fuss about Alan Shearer arse elbow differentiation inability.” As I’d feared/predicted, Shearer applied all the expertise he used...

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VARs – The ‘Inevitable’ Controversies

‘Inevitable’ was as misused a word this week as ‘irony’ usually is. So, it was ‘inevitable’ that video assistant referees (VARs) would cause ‘controversy’ when experimentally introduced to English club football on Monday and Wednesday. BT Sport presenter Lynsey Hipgrave said so, after Monday’s Brighton/Crystal Palace FA Cup third round tie, won for Brighton by Glenn Murray’s late goal, which was scrutinised by VAR Neil Swarbrick and assistant Peter Kirkup. “Of course, there was the inevitable VAR controversy,” she told studio pundits, Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand. ‘Of course,’ there was virtually no controversy. Nor on Wednesday, when Swarbrick,...

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Video Assistant Referees: A Clear & Present Danger? 

The recent refereeing conspiracy against Arsenal served a dual purpose. It re-affirmed Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger’s not-at-all-crackpot theory that all of football is against him and his team (see the opening goal in last year’s FA Cup Final for detai…ah…wait). And it gave media pundits topical material for their “analyses” (heavy emphasis on the “anal”) of the potential impact of Video Assistant Referees (VARs), ahead of VARs introduction to competitive English club football this week (with Arsenal among the first four teams to be governed by the system. Of course). VARs themselves will serve a dual purpose. One more...

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The FIFA Trial: Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad?

“Happy but not satisfied.” When I read football comics as a 28-year-old kid, comic-strip stars such as “Cracker” Crane of Ditchfield United and “Bobby of the Blues” (from the porn-mag-sounding “Scorcher and Score”) never seemed to lose. And “happy but not satisfied” was the closest they ever got to describing crowd disaffection; itself a remarkably cossetted view for an era of scarves-on-wrists, feather-cut-sporting “football hooligans,” on-and-off the pitch, fans and players alike. My point? Oh yes…sorry. “Happy but not satisfied” was the phrase which came to my mind, and I’m sure the minds of more important and better-informed observers,...

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The FIFA Trial: Over By Christmas? 

Watching helplessly, as events overtake your just-submitted 1800-word article, is frustrating. Luckily, I was proof-reading my last “Fifa Trial” piece (NOT “Fifa-Gate” because that…MAKES…NO…SENSE…) when news emerged that defence attorneys in New York’s Brooklyn Federal Courthouse had “declined to submit an affirmative defence of their clients.” So, I was able to look a fraction less behind-the-times, even if it was disappointing to discover that the attorneys’ statement was NOT legalese for “there’s NO defence for this shower of crooks.” And some of the late testimony illustrated an issue which has concerned some trial observers. After the trial’s early dramas,...

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