COMMENT: Why a grand final rematch should never happen Bad Call: The white line shows the Melbourne Victory players [in white] were in an offside position during the free kick that led to the Victory’s goal. Picture: Fox Sports
TweetFacebookPundits suggested the video assistant referee could have left his control room near the halfway line and ducked into a corporate box to look at a Fox Sports broadcastto check the offside decision.Under the rules, there’s no formal scope for this to occur. There is a risk thatsuch a move could be seen tobreach the integrity of the process. VAR documents show seriousconcern about decisions being unduly influenced or interfered with. This is why VAR officials sit in a secure room.
Nevertheless,many would say a call could easily have beenmadeon theoffside decision in an adjacent corporate box. Pretty much everyone in the stadiumcould tell it was offside with one look at the paused footage on the big screen.The A-Leaguesaid on Tuesday thatVAR officials conceded that inhindsight, they“could have left our room and gone to Fox”.
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As well as the video assistant referee,the referee on the field can also review footage. If hedecides to do so, the rules say heshould“go immediately to thereferee review area”, which isnext to the field of play.Again, in this instance, some will say the rulesshould be changed to allow the emergency use ofthe big screen at the stadium.
But I’d imagine that formal or informal use of Fox Sports broadcasts in the event of VAR failures would be quite difficult for referees in some instances. In their securecontrol rooms, VARs have the authority to take their timeto watch replays at normal speed, in freeze framesand slow motion, with different camera angles. Having to examine a TV broadcast quickly,without adequate controls and with distractions could pose problems for decisions that require more focus than blatant offsides. However, the A-League said a back-up broadcast could be put in control rooms.
As for the calls for a rematch, this would go against the laws and spirit of the game. The lawsstate that thedecisions of the referee,including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final.
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In the Jets’ semi-final,Melbourne City were 1-0 up when they should have had a penalty. Pundits agree the referee and the VARgot that decision wrong. The Jets went on to win the match 2-1. Should that match have beenreplayed?As Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna saidon Sunday, if arematch of the grand final occurred,rematches would be needed regularly becausereferees often make mistakes.That’s the thing: players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes,fans make mistakes, journalists make mistakes, even technology makes mistakes. You could say that Jets star Jason Hoffman made a mistake by committing the foul that led to the offside goal.Mistakes are part of the game andmistakes are part of life. Some mistakes are understandably harder to accept thanothers. The whole idea ofthe VAR is to avoid mistakes. But can it ever be perfect?
The VAR experiment is still in its infancy. It isa complexsystem that will take timeto master.Hopefully, the mistakes being made now will lead to adjustments andfewerincidents,like the one that robbed the Jetsand their fans in the grand final.