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Unloved VAR delayed at least another year for Premier League

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Premier League clubs agree to keep testing, want more use in FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

Udinese Calcio v  AC Chievo Verona - Serie A Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

Video Assistant Referees may be largely unremarkable and becoming more and more routine in Serie A, the Bundesliga and the Eredivisie, but the review system has met with active resistance in the UK.

“Controversial” seems to be the word of choice for headline writers every time VAR has been used to make a decision in the FA Cup this season. The complaints have been many; the delays, a complete lack of communication with supporters (leaving fans in the stands and even on television bewildered when the games drag to a stop), and even a dissatisfaction with the verdicts rendered, as with Italy’s late penalty against England in a March friendly.

Given all the negativity, Premier League clubs voted on Friday against implementing it for 2018-19 and instead chose to extend testing for another season, while urging the FA to expose more referees to the technology and not just Craig Pawson.

The International Football Association Board is expected to approve VAR for use in the World Cup this summer, providing Premier League teams with another opportunity to study how it’s implemented.

While the feeling in Germany seems to be that VAR is getting the calls right, that doesn’t mean the players are thrilled by it.

Fans of sports which use some form of replay refereeing (which includes all of the major sports in the United States) know that the promise of perfect decisions is rarely met, except in tennis. Whether or not the problems associated with it — the delays, the close calls that are hard to get right — make it worth adopting is a question that’s worth pondering. For many, VAR is no more satisfying than plain old referees and the mistakes they inevitably make. The perfectly officiated game is a mirage, and can probably never be achieved.