Human Versus Machine, VAR Edition


Human error.  It has been a part of our game since its birth.  Refs making big calls ‘in the moment’ based on their own judgement and expertise. 

Frustrating at times, especially when incorrect decisions are made against you.  Accepted however because at the end of the day you win some, you lose some.  It has contributed to some of the greatest rivalries in football and is just a part of our game.  No matter the importance of the match or experience of the ref, human error can eventually be forgiven.

Since the implementation of the Video Assistant Referee into the Hyandai A-league, fans have been unforgiving of referees.  Human error has become irrelevant and a non-excuse due to the power of the machine.

When Melbourne Victory took the lead over Newcastle in the 2017/18 season grand final, I could not have cared less that James Donachie was offside.  I was thankful to the machine for failing and I was thankful for human error.  Ordinarily the human would have been criticised but forgiven because making those calls during important moments is a tough gig.  But that game won’t be remembered as anything other than ‘that time the technology failed our game’ and this is not what football is about.

Last night, Kurt Ams was offered the use of the VAR to confirm or rectify his initial judgement that Corey Brown had fouled Bruno Fornaroli.  After reviewing the footage, it was clear to all that Kurt Ams was wrong to stand by his initial call for a penalty.  But what is most disappointing is that he actually had the chance to prove just why VAR deserves a place in our game.

But what is its place if humans are still to have the final call?  Can human error be forgiven as easily when there is a machine available to them at all times?  After last night, the answer to that is clear. There is no place for human error anymore, leaving implications for our game’s future if refs are going to continue making the wrong calls.  At least until round 2, Melbourne Victory’s season opener will be spoken about as the game where Kurt Ams had no excuse.

If we are going to persist with the implementation of this technology in our sport, then there is no place for human error anymore.  But as a passionate supporter of my club and the game, I say take the technology away and trust our refs.  When the machine still does not have the final say at the end of the day, really what’s the point?

By lilchano

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