Last night in Newcastle, a packed Hunter Stadium saw Melbourne Victory crowned A-League champions with a 1 – 0 win over the Newcastle Jets. And whilst we’re about to discuss ‘that goal’, it’s without saying we’ve no doubt Victory deserved to be crowned A-League champions after a remarkable season.
But, having said that. In what we can only describe as the most A-League stuff-up of them all; a Grand Final has literally been decided because the technology which was intended to stop this exact thing from ever happening again.
For those who were out and about last night, the controversy stems from Kosta Barbarouses’s 9th-minute goal. If you watch the footage below, you’ll see that in the lead-up play, James Donachie heads the ball into the centre of the box from an offside position.
— Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) May 5, 2018
The linesman noting no illegalities to the play kept his flag down and allowed the goal to be awarded. But as has happened all season, the goal was then to be checked by the VAR referee to ensure there were no ‘obvious’ errors with the goal.
But last night – that footage was never made available to the VAR referee. Explained this morning by the FFA, a “technical failure in the VAR system meant that the Video Assistant Referee did not have access to the camera views which would have enabled him to make an offside ruling.”
It’s these exact situations that prove why VAR should never be a thing. There will always be missed opportunities, wrong calls and disappointment in football. Referees will get it wrong. Fans will be pissed, but they’ll live with it because that’s football.
But when you go and make the promise to every A-League supporter that there won’t be wrong calls anymore because of this technology, you set a new expectation of accountability. You can’t just throw your hands up and say ‘sorry we got it wrong’ and move on. There’s an additional sense of disappointment that rests firmly on your shoulders.
Worse still is having to wake up after the A-League’s ‘big day’ to see that the focus is directed at another one of the FFA’s massive own-goals, instead of celebrating the remarkable season of Melbourne Victory and the Newcastle Jets.
So either be fully committed to having the VAR work 100% of the time or don’t have it at all.