World Cup - Richard Hercock: Heading into the second round hoping for clarity on VAR

VAR has been 'a stain on this World Cup'
VAR has been 'a stain on this World Cup'
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Today is the day when the neglected lawns finally get cut, those DIY jobs you have been avoiding are completed, and that ever expanding pile of laundry is dealt with.

Yes, after two solid weeks of overloading on football it’s a rest day at the World Cup.

Referee Mark Geiger from the US signals the use of VAR during the group F match between South Korea and Germany, at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Referee Mark Geiger from the US signals the use of VAR during the group F match between South Korea and Germany, at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

And how we all need it. It’s time to catch our breath as we look back on the 48 group games, which have – in the main – seen some excellent entertainment.

From Spain’s 3-3 thriller with Portugal to England’s six-goal thumping of Panama.

From Argentina’s nailbiting 2-1 win over Nigeria to the drama that was 10-man Germany’s come-from-behind victory against Sweden.

But if they were the highlights there were a few stinkers thrown in that won’t make the Russia 2018 DVD.

Where once the referee’s word – and judgment – was final, now his power has been diluted and VAR has been a stain on this World Cup.

Richard Hercock

The 0-0 dead rubber that saw France and Denmark take a point apiece to reach the last 16 was painful to watch.

I am also struggling to remember Iran’s 1-0 win over Morocco or Andreas Granqvist’s penalty that earned Sweden a narrow 1-0 victory over South Korea. But, as we head into the Round of 16 games, starting tomorrow with France against Argentina and Uruguay versus Portugal, there looks to be some real crackers.

Sunday sees Spain tackle hosts Russia while Croatia’s meeting with Denmark has me reaching for my Euro 96 programme. These two sides met then at Hillsborough in a group game, Davor Suker netting twice either side of Zvonimir Boban’s goal in a 3-0 win for Croatia.

Now plenty has been written about VAR, and some have welcomed it.

Personally, I feel it has further undermined the role of the referee. Players have quickly learned now to try to cheat the system. We constantly see players chasing the referee, histrionics to the fore, demanding a video replay.

Where once the referee’s word – and judgment – were final now his power has been diluted and VAR has been a stain on this World Cup. VAR has so many issues, it is more flawed than the system – that being a bloke with a whistle and two linesmen who actually flag offsides – it is meant to improve. Remember, before VAR, the need for a video replay of a really contentious decision would maybe pop up once a week in the Premier League. At the World Cup it’s happening several times each game and is crazy.

It’s enough to make me switch off the TV. In fact, that’s what I am doing. My own mini protest, I vow not to watch a single World Cup game today. It’s time to get out the lawn mower.