The implementation of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology has been a subject of both praise and controversy since its introduction in football. The Champions League, being one of the most prestigious football competitions in the world, is no exception to this trend. The use of VAR in the Champions League has sparked various debates as to who got robbed and who benefitted from the additional technology.
One of the most notorious incidents where VAR sparked controversy was during the quarterfinal clash between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in the 2018-2019 season. With the aggregate score tied at 3-3, City was on the verge of advancing due to their superior number of away goals. However, in the dying moments of the match, Raheem Sterling scored what seemed to be the winning goal. The stadium erupted with celebrations, but those were short-lived as VAR officials scrutinized the goal for a potential handball by City’s Fernando Llorente. After a lengthy review, the goal was disallowed, and Tottenham advanced to the semifinals on away goals, leaving City and their fans feeling robbed by VAR.
Another controversial VAR decision occurred during the semifinal match between Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur in the same season. During the dying moments of the second leg, with Ajax leading 3-2 on aggregate, Spurs needed a goal to advance. In the 96th minute, as the tension reached its peak, Lucas Moura found the back of the net, seemingly securing Tottenham’s place in the final. However, VAR officials were quick to intervene and examine a potential handball by Moura in the build-up to the goal. After the review, the goal was upheld, much to the dismay of Ajax and their fans, who felt they were robbed of a place in the final.
It is important to note that while these incidents may have fueled controversy and left some feeling robbed, VAR ultimately aims to ensure fair play and justice in the game. The technology is not perfect and relies on human interpretation and judgment, which can sometimes lead to subjectivity. Nevertheless, VAR has undoubtedly reduced the number of glaring errors made by referees, providing more accurate outcomes in crucial matches.
VAR has also benefited teams when decisions have been in their favor. An example of this was during the 2019-2020 Champions League Round of 16 between Real Madrid and Manchester City. After Gabriel Jesus put City 2-1 up on aggregate, Madrid’s defender Dani Carvajal was shown a yellow card for a foul. However, after a VAR review, the referee deemed it to be a red card offense, reducing Madrid to 10 men. City capitalized on their numerical advantage, winning the tie and advancing to the quarterfinals.
Controversies surrounding VAR in the Champions League have sparked heated debates among fans, players, and pundits. While some argue that the technology has brought more fairness to the game, others criticize it for slowing down the flow of play and taking away the human element from decision-making. Ultimately, VAR has become an integral part of modern football, and as with any new technology, it will continue to evolve and improve with time.
In conclusion, the VAR controversies in the Champions League have left fans divided as to who got robbed and who benefited from the technology. While the implementation of VAR aims to ensure fairness, subjectivity and human interpretation can still lead to contentious decisions. As football continues to adapt to advances in technology, it is important to strike a balance between equity and the spirit of the game.