By Andrew Warshaw
January 9 – The video assistant refereeing system, whilst gaining in overall popurity, has had its fair share of criticism since being gradually introduced across European and international football.
But it isn’t every day that both managers in the same game pour scorn on the technology.
Both Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino and his Chelsea counterpart Mauricio Sarri were critical of VAR on Tuesday when the system played a pivotal role in Harry Kane’s penalty in Tottenham’s 1-0 League Cup semi-final, first-leg victory over the arch-rivals.
Kane’s 26th-minute winner means Tottenham take a slender advantage across London for the second leg on Jan. 24 yet despite VAR being in his team’s favour, Pochettino said he didn’t want his team, who had to defend for the majority of the game, to win that way.
“To be honest I’m not very happy with that system, it’s a system that we need to agree on the way it’s going to be used,” Pochettino, who is seeking a first trophy since taking over at Tottenham in 2014, told reporters.
“We need to develop that system, we need to work with players, coaching staff and referees, it needs to be a tool to improve the game.”
The crucial VAR intervention came just before the midway point of the first half as Kane raced through on goal and appeared to be brought down by Chelsea’s Spanish keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Initially referee Michael Oliver did not award a penalty but instead signalled for VAR while the crowd and players waited for the verdict.
After a lengthy delay to decide whether Kane had actually been offside in the build-up to the goal (the linesman had raised his flag) the penalty was awarded.
Unlike in the rest of Europe’s major leagues who already have it, VAR is not being employed in the Premier League until next season and continues to be used as an experiment in selected cup matches.
But Pochettino said: “It’s a system that sometimes kills emotions. Of course today it was a good decision for us but I didn’t celebrate because we were waiting five minutes. After watching the World Cup and another league like La Liga, I see that nobody is happy from day one that they started to use it.
“Being clear, I am pro technology because you cannot stop evolution but we are waiting so long, it is not clear what are the rules. We have six months to improve the system. There is a lot of work to do.”
Chelsea’s Italian manager Maurizio Sarri was left even more frustrated and bemused, saying English officials did not yet have enough experience of using VAR. Although the VAR camera suggested Kane was onside, Chelsea showed a screenshot of their own system after the game that suggested otherwise.
“Kane was clearly offside. At the moment here referees aren’t ready to use the system in the right way,” charged Sarri.
“The linesman stopped and didn’t follow the ball – for our defenders it was offside. I don’t know about the goalkeeper but sure the defenders were affected. It’s very strange in the Premier League there isn’t VAR and in the Carabao Cup (League Cup) there is the system. It’s very strange for us, the players and referees.”
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