Monday Musings: VAR Steals Ronaldo’s Headlines

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Surprisingly, people were talking about something other than Cristiano Ronaldo this weekend. It was the Confederations Cup and it kicked off to a slow, drab 2-0 win for Russia over New Zealand. The game was a total snoozer. A year away from hosting the biggest sporting event on the planet, Russia’s still fielding the same team from 10 years ago. Don’t expect them to pull a South Korea and advance to the semi-final as the host nation. They may not even score next summer.

Portugal vs Mexico turned out to be an entertaining friendly. No goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, but the most talked about athlete on Earth played well against the CONCACAF champions. It was a fair draw. And yes, we’re still wondering where Ronaldo will play next season. I’ll spare you the drama: it’s going to be Madrid. You won’t see him in Paris, Manchester or Los Angeles come August. He’ll stay at Real Madrid and he’ll become the highest paid athlete in the world.

Then for a brief moment on Sunday, FIFA’s Video Assistant Referee stole some clicks from the Portuguese star as the Chile vs Cameroon match became a comedy of technological errors. I was celebrating Father’s Day with a hearty, all-you-can eat brunch buffet at Local Three in Atlanta. Meanwhile my Twitter timeline was blowing up with VAR haters and “stop ruining the game” tweets. Here’s my take: I’m not fan of the VAR. It’s early days, but I think we can all agree that VAR has had an awkward and confusing introduction to the game. I’m fine with goal-line technology and I’m generally open to experimentation in sports. But I’m also a football traditionalist. Bad calls and organic controversy are part of the game. Trust me, I’ve been let down by referring decisions as both a player and a fan. The game isn’t perfect and that’s fine. VAR is putting even more pressure on referees and undermining them on the sport’s biggest stages. Not cool.

But VAR isn’t going away. Less is more is a minimalist approach that FIFA doesn’t abide by. The sport’s governing body is hell bent on instituting more technology, more teams, and more rule changes whether we like it or not.



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