The A-League season came to a close on Sunday night, with Sydney FC claiming the championship with a penalty shootout victory over Perth Glory.
VAR. Three letters to strike fear into the heart of any Aussie fan.
It stands for confusion, delays, and breeds a bemused apathy, as players mill around waiting for officials to decide if Matt Simon’s fingernails were offside.
Well, not anymore.
As an antidote to the VAR-induced poison, the FFA recently made sweeping changes to its implementation. Gone was the nitpicking, the endless re-refereeing of subjective decisions that left fans fuming in frustration anyway.
VAR would now have a ‘Higher Threshold’ for clear and obvious errors.
Supposedly, at least. It wouldn’t be the first time football’s governing bodies made all the right noises, but all the wrong moves.
Gianni Infantino and his plan to clean up corruption, anyone?
Which makes it all the more commendable when positive actions back up rhetoric, as is the case here. Case in point, Perth Glory vs Wellington Phoenix, Westpac Stadium, 39th minute.
It was 0-0, a nothing game petering out to its inevitable conclusion. Until Louis Fenton took off down the wing and onto a slick through pass that bisected the Glory defence as Glory left-back Jason Davidson twisted himself into a pretzel. Yet this pretzel isn’t a Socceroo for nothing. He untangled himself in time to give Louis Fenton a slight shove as he burst into the box.
It was the slightest of contacts, and the ref’s original call to play on was correct.
Then, the dreaded finger to the ear for the ref. Would we see another nitpick by the VAR? Would this be the thing we walked about all week – instead, of course, of the game?
Fortunately, play was resumed swiftly and the game flowed on. A brilliant, rapid example how VAR can, and hopefully will be used going forwards.
The referees get a hard time when things go wrongly and we hear barely a peep when things go right.
We need to give praise when it is deserved. Well done, ref.