JEFF POWELL: Farce is too kind a word for the VAR catastrophe

JEFF POWELL: Farce is too kind a word for the VAR catastrophe – football risks ruin… and the people’s game must not submit to those trying to ruin it

  • VAR is ruining the game and should be consigned to goal-line technology only
  • The insistence on giving penalties for non-deliberate hand-balls is madness 
  • Gary Lineker hit the nail half on the head when he said: ‘Give us our game back’ 

The initials VAR could stand for many alternatives to Video Assistant Referee.

Here’s a few to be going on with:

Visually Activated Ridicule; Vacuously Aggravated Resentment; Violently Agitated Riots; Vandals At Ready; Vanity Against Reason; Vindictive Administrative Ruination.

Take your pick. All and many more apply.

VAR is ruining football and has perverted the outcome of too many games this season already

Not only to the confusion, dissent and unrest plaguing football’s penalty areas but also the shambles into which our hapless Government’s hopeless handling of the coronavirus pandemic has descended.

It is no coincidence, I would submit, that the nation’s interests and the national game are being dragged hand-in-hand into a seemingly bottomless pit of betrayal.

The void in leadership at each level and in every quarter of the world – from the United States to the Outer Hebrides – is inevitably afflicting all walks of life in this country.

Farce is too kind a word for it. This is tragic on both counts.

Gary Lineker hit out at VAR recently after a weekend full of controversial decisions

Of course the loss of life, jobs and sanity are of pre-eminent importance. But it matters too that the sport which offers a majority of the public an escape from the terrors of the world about us – falsely magnified as those fears are by a sadly weakened Prime Minister, the ship of adolescent fools who crew his so-called cabinet and those self-serving scientists whose speciality is mumbo-jumbo – is also being dragged under.

How on earth – and why for heaven’s sake – are the people and the people’s game submitting so meekly to these twin tyrannies?

Never have so many readily surrendered so much to so moronic a few.

Gary Lineker hit half the nail on the head by saying: ‘Give us back our game.’ He might have added: ‘And our country, our nerve, our courage and the spirit needed to make Britain Great Again’.

Eric Dier was harshly penalised when Andy Carroll’s header hit his arm last weekend

He was referring to the hand-ball controversies by which VAR is sucking the life-blood from the game he played with goal-scoring verve.

How hugely preferable were the old arguments about referee decisions – in their honesty and human frailty – as part and parcel of the cut and thrust of the game. VAR should be consigned to goal-line technology only.

Lineker may also have been thinking of how the giant clubs – some of which he played for – are refusing to bail out their Covid-stricken relatives lower down the leagues. Leaving it to we the taxpayers to save those icons of sporting history, hubs of local communities, the very foundation of football as we know and love it, from going out of existence.

All while squandering billions in monstrous transfer fees and obscene wages on ordinary players.

Boris Johnson recently announced the return of fans to stadiums would be delayed 

VAR’s insistence on the award of penalties for non-deliberate hand-balls – which has perverted the outcome of too many matches already – is rooted in the fishy kind of Euro-diktat from which Britain is struggling to escape.

Cod wars. Codswallop wars. Call them what you will but since Bojo’s mojo fell sick with coronavirus we seem to have lost our will to win them.

Just as legions of football fans timidly accept being shut out of stadia so vast tracts of the population tamely surrender to isolation by masks, separation from family and by numbers, house arrest if decreed in those most unfunny of Hancock’s Half-Hours in the madhouse of Westminster.

The malaise of arrogance on the front benches and apathy throughout the land seems more unstoppable than the virus itself.

Empty stadiums, such as Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium (above), have meant a devastating loss of revenue for cash-strapped teams, but some top-flight clubs don’t want to bail them out

While Covid-19 continues to be responsible for deaths, thousands also sadly perish from flu, pneumonia, heart attacks, cancer and other ailments to which patients are being abandoned in the cause of virus mania.

As are those who commit suicide in the loneliness, depression or financial despair of business closure and job loss as the Government destroys the economy. Some, conceivably, because they are locked out of football matches. Yet total lockdown looms again.

And for what, pray?

Germany is readmitting fans to grounds, under safe and secure protocol. Forgive us for wondering what in hell the outcome of two World Wars would have been if, back then, today’s apologies for ministers had been charged with running the country.

Germany is readmitting fans to grounds, under safe protocol but here they must still stay away

And no wonder England haven’t won the World Cup since the swinging 60s. What price now our freedoms when a couple of stupid kids are banished from the England squad for sneaking girls into a hotel under the corona radar yet a key defender of experience is back in the squad despite being embroiled in an alcoholic brawl with Greek police?

Or as the two-bit Mayor of London sanctions political rallies by tens of thousands, while forsaken university students are hounded by police if they break out of lock up for a party?

Football is a vital touch-stone of our society. All our leaders, be warned.

If VAR is not kicked into touch, and the game ruined. If total lockdown is not cast out of all reckoning, and this green and pleasant land left ravaged by poverty.

They will never be forgiven. 

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