City's disallowed goal shows VAR isn't killing emotion in football
The idea that players won't celebrate goals in future for fear of them being ruled out by a video referee is nonsense, says Will Rook.
Does VAR take the emotion out of football? Does it heck.
Take Saturday’s match between Manchester City and Tottenham at the Etihad.
Firstly, City thought they had won it after Gabriel Jesus fired home from close range to make it 3-2 in stoppage time. Cue scenes.
Then VAR conducted a check. Cue uncertainty.
Then it was confirmed that, because of a handball from Aymeric Laporte, City’s goal was disallowed and we were back to where we started. Cue more scenes, from the other end.
Rather than sanitising the biggest moment of the game, the use of VAR amplified it.
The idea that players and fans will in future not celebrate a stoppage-time winner for fear of it being disallowed is nonsense given the raw emotion that comes with such an important moment.
The involvement of the video referee does not take that initial elation away.
During the VAR check itself, you could feel the sense of nervousness around the stadium. It was pure drama.
Ultimately, City were left angry and frustrated after the goal was ruled out.
All of that within the space of little over a minute.
Full video of City fans after the winner, followed by the confusion of the VAR decision, and Spurs’ reactions. pic.twitter.com/kYIAhYGwcZ— City Willy (@mcfc_will) August 17, 2019
The frustration was obvious as Pep Guardiola bristled in his post-match interview.
“We have to accept it,” said the Manchester City manager.
Guardiola’s comment was at least more diplomatic than the boos from the home fans that greeted the final whistle.
A furious Jesus, meanwhile, had to be led away from referee Michael Oliver at the end of the game.
What was clear, amid the confusion about the nuances of the handball rule, was that the emotion of the game was alive and well.
Just ask Tottenham’s travelling fans, who celebrated the overturned decision almost as passionately as they’d celebrated their side’s two equalising goals.
And then there was Mauricio Pochettino, who raised a few smiles after admitting he was ‘in love with VAR’ while speaking to Sky Sports post-match.
The fact that, for the second time in four months, the video assistant had denied City an injury-time winner against Spurs, only added to the occasion.
That’s what VAR does. It makes stuff happen. It makes us feel things.
To say it’s sanitising the beautiful game is just not true.
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