VAR: another embarrassing night for English football

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino says VAR could kill football – players, pundits and fans agree with him

VAR English football Tottenham Wembley
A decision is reviewed by VAR during the FA Cup fifth round replay between Tottenham and Rochdale
(Image credit: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images )

Tottenham beat Rochdale 6-1 in the FA Cup fifth round replay last night but today’s talk is not about Fernando Llorente’s hat-trick, it’s about the “comical” and “embarrassing” video assistant referee (VAR) decisions that overshadowed the Wembley encounter.

“Controversy dominated” the first half of last night’s match, the BBC says, when a goal was disallowed and a penalty was overturned after it was scored. An early strike by Erik Lamela was first chalked off after Llorente was adjudged to have fouled a defender in the build-up and then Son Heung-min’s penalty was overuled after he illegally “feinted” in the run-up to his spot-kick.

The Daily Mail says that match referee Paul Tierney was jeered at by fans for his constant use of VAR in the first 45 minutes of the replay.

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Fans inside Wembley weren’t the only ones who were frustrated by the use of VAR. Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said the first-half was “embarrassing”, BT Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas called it an “absolute shambles” while The Times said that “chaos and confusion” reigned as VAR took centre stage at Wembley.

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Speaking to the BBC after the cup win, Pochettino said: “The first half was a little bit embarrassing for everyone. I am not sure that system is going to help. I think football is about emotion.

“I am for technology but be careful not to change the game and kill the emotion. My worry is we are talking about a machine and not football.

“If we are going to kill emotion, it’s not so happy what we have seen. My opinion is we have the best referees in Europe. The referee is the boss on the pitch and has the last word always.”

Former England and Spurs midfielder Jenas added: “VAR could be so good for the game. It’s comical at times, how long it’s taking and nobody knows what’s going on.”

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When is VAR used?

Introduced in England this season in the FA Cup and the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, the VAR system is used for “four key on-field incidents”, says The Sun:

  • Awarding goals
  • Penalty decisions
  • Red card decisions
  • Cases of mistaken identity

What do the fans think?

The Times says that English football’s experiment with VAR “descended into chaos” during the Spurs-Rochdale clash. But what did players, pundits and fans think?

We round up the best reactions on Twitter:

Former Spurs and Argentina legend Ossie Ardiles branded VAR a farce.

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“VAR, you were hopeless… again,” said Alan Shearer.

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Spurs defender Danny Rose didn’t hold back.

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When Saturday Comes writer Sean Cole says football’s culture of blaming the referee must end.

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Gary Lineker didn’t get his wish.

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This settles it for one fan.

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A golden rule for sport.

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VAR needs work and refining.

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“Annoying and slows the game down”.

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Incorporate a review system like tennis.

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Don’t fix it if it’s not broken.

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