Wenger, Conte support VAR despite being a “cause of anxiety”

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Add Arsene Wenger and Antonio Conte, two of the most powerful managers in the game, to the list of notable figures who support the use of a video-assistant referee (VAR).

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The VAR, which made its debut in the upper reaches of English soccer (Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Crystal Palace — FA Cup) on Monday, was available to referee Martin Atkinson during Wednesday’s scoreless League Cup semifinal first leg between Arsenal and Chelsea. While none of his initial calls were overturned by use of the VAR, Atkinson did consult the additional (off-site) assistant on multiple occasions — a non-penalty incident between Danny Welbeck and Cesc Fabregas, and a no-cards-shown extra-curricular confrontation between Calum Chambers and Cesar Azpilicueta.

After the game, Conte voiced his support of the fledgling system, even though it was his side which was not awarded a late, decisive penalty — quotes from the BBC:

“I think it was a good solution, when there is a doubt during the game the referee can check and see the situation again and make the best decision. It is right, in this way for sure the mistakes are less.”

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While Wenger flat out said he “felt it took too much time” to resolve the Welbeck-Fabregas penalty shout (perhaps that had something to do with watching the game from the stands, at a distance), he admitted the system “worked well” overall — quotes from the BBC:

“It was interesting, a cause of anxiety as it took a bit of time to make the second decision with Welbeck and Fabregas, but overall it worked well.

“But between the penalty action or penalty not action, with the time taken it would have been strange to come back to the penalty.”

On the very grand macro level, it does seem absurd that the only person in the world who can’t immediately use replays to determine whether or not a call was made correctly or incorrectly, is the one person whose job is to make the calls and, in key instances, determine the outcome of the game.