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Poor communication and shortcomings in technology systems can lead to confusion

By , Coega Communications and Stakeholder Relations Manager
03 Oct 2023
Andile April, Communications and Stakeholder Manager for Coega Development Corporation.
Andile April, Communications and Stakeholder Manager for Coega Development Corporation.

In the realm of modern football, the introduction of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was heralded as a monumental development that would eradicate contentious decisions and ensure fairness on the pitch. However, during Liverpool's 2-1 defeat to Tottenham on Saturday, it became abundantly clear that poor communication of VAR decisions can still mar the beautiful game. The match showcased how insufficient communication between the on-field referee and spectators, as well as the implementation of technology, can lead to confusion, frustration, and a sense of injustice among fans, players, and coaches alike.

One of the key problems during the game was that the spectators inside the stadium were left completely in the dark about the VAR process. Several major decisions went through lengthy reviews without any explanation given to the fans. When a significant moment occurs, such as a potential penalty or a goal, the crowd eagerly waits for the referee's decision, craving transparency, and clarity. However, during the match, silence descended on the spectators as the game seemed to stop for an eternity while VAR made its determination behind closed doors.

The lack of communication was further exacerbated by the absence of screens in the stadium, denying fans the opportunity to witness the same replays viewed by VAR officials. With no big screens displaying the incidents in question, spectators were forced to rely solely on brief glimpses of the play or the announcements from the referee, thus increasing their sense of disillusionment. This poor communication not only left supporters confused but also prevented them from engaging in discussions and sharing opinions based on concrete evidence.

Another issue that arose was the inconsistent application of VAR decisions. Liverpool's disallowed goal, Marcus Rashford's penalty against Jurgen Klopp's side, and the incident leading to Tottenham's penalty were all met with differing outcomes. These decisions were met with outrage as fans felt that the integrity of the game was compromised. Enforcing stricter guidelines and consistently applying them is crucial to ensuring the credibility of VAR and highlighting its value to the game.

Moreover, the length of time taken for VAR reviews disrupted the natural flow and rhythm of the match. On several occasions during the game, players were seen jostling for position and reacting to clearances only to have the action halted due to VAR reviews. These interruptions not only frustrated players but also affected their concentration and intensity. The prolonged delays due to VAR created an environment devoid of excitement and spontaneity, depriving fans of the captivating aspects of football.

To address these issues and improve communication, several measures can be taken. First, as advocated by many football fans and experts, the use of screens in stadiums should be made compulsory to ensure transparency and allow supporters to make their judgments. Additionally, clear, and concise explanations from the referee regarding VAR decisions should be delivered through pitch-side microphones, preventing the confusion and frustration currently experienced by fans. Efforts must also be made to streamline and expedite the VAR review process, reducing the time taken for decisions to be conveyed to all stakeholders.

In conclusion, poor communication with VAR during Liverpool's defeat to Tottenham highlighted the shortcomings of the system. The lack of transparency, consistency, and lengthy delays caused frustration and disillusionment among spectators, players, and coaches alike. To avoid further controversies and maintain the integrity of the game, it is imperative that measures be taken to improve communication during VAR reviews, ensuring that all stakeholders are properly informed and involved in the decision-making process. Only then can VAR fulfill its promise of bringing fairness and justice to the beautiful game.

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