Feel how you will about Video Assistant Referee, but this summer’s World Cup changed how we feel when we watch club soccer.
That’s not a slight or a compliment to the tournament, which was in fact quite amazing, but rather a deep dive into that word: Feel.
V-A-R, you guys.
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While review wasn’t perfect at the World Cup in Russia — cough, Aleksandar Mitrovic versus Switzerland, cough — it cut down on red cards and was a part of the most exciting tournament in some time (perhaps ever).
And on opening weekend in the Premier League it was hard to not find yourself, for better or worse, thinking that the lack of video review played a role in some clubs earning and losing valuable points (They’re worth the same in August as they are in April, you know?).
— Saints forward Danny Ings nearly earned a winning debut on his homecoming, only for the should-be penalty call to not arrive at St. Mary’s.
— Mamadou Sakho takes down Fulham’s Andre Schurrle in the box, no PK, with Crystal Palace leading 1-0 en route to a 2-0 win over the Cottagers.
— Moussa Sissoko stepping on the leg of Kenedy before halftime of Spurs’ 2-1 win at Newcastle (in front of referee Martin Atkinson for what it’s worth).
This wasn’t an unusual weekend for controversial plays at all, and certainly soccer has survived and thrived for years with plenty of human error.
But after a World Cup with an unusually low number of red cards — presumably because players knew there was an eye in the sky — and high amount of correctly awarded penalties, it’s going to take some time to get used to human error again.
That’s fine. Again, we’ve done it this way for years and can continue to do so for a long, long time. But it’s going to be interesting to see if we ever feel like the genie is back in the bottle.