The ignorance shown towards technology prior to this World Cup felt like a culmination of pride and preservation of a sport that still allows for mistakes simply so people wouldn’t have to openly discuss the important elements of the games themselves.
Whether people like or dislike VAR now isn’t so much a debate, but an indication of whether or not you want the game to progress. You start to wonder if the days of you blaming the referee because you had nothing else to say, are limited.
In truth, this will change the game and probably for the better.
The record for penalties awarded at a single World Cup is eighteen. That was in 2002. There’s been fourteen awarded already at this tournament, or a penalty every second game.
This isn’t because VAR is imagining these fouls. The dark arts have long been applauded as they should be, as they were within the grey area of officiating. This will now change and managers will have to readjust to how they bend the rules to gain an advantage.
We’re already seeing it. Running towards the referee, signalling a review is the new flashing an imaginary yellow card. And so what?
Perhaps that’s one way to go about things, but it helps fine tune the process going forward. If Moscow, or the future relative equivalent can advise a referee upon their own review, to have a second look, then players will eventually realise that there are eyes on the incident and whatever interpretation one man or woman had will now be either amended or verified.
It takes the pressure off officials. A pressure that should never exist in the first place either.
While players to try and bend the laws that are held in place by referees, they shouldn’t be entitled to consistent justice while doing so.
For now, the rulebook becomes the centre of attention as it should be. It will probably shift focus on the laws of the game and open the discourse as to whether or not they should be altered, rather than the way they’re implemented.
Once the lines of communication are drawn up properly, there hopefully won’t be a case like Aleksandar Mitrovic’s from the other night.
If he didn’t get a penalty, he could have at least brought Switzerland to court for assault.
Gradually, as these things become less and less common, we’ll have a sport taking place that accurately reflects the laws of the game.
This is important, too. The rules will now define how the game can and can’t be played.
For example, foul throws. I’d say one in every ten throws in major European leagues are illegal, yet nobody bats an eyelid. I’m not calling for VAR in these circumstances, but on a bigger scale, rule changes will affect how people learn the game from a young age.
While this may hinder consistency, and force the current generation to alter their approaches, it’ll be better for the sport long-term.
Football has just gotten a whole lot purer and the results will show that in ten years’ time.