Behold, you are being watched, every move you make is scrutinised by a group of men in a secluded room far, far away. At their behest, a call is made and your dreams are crushed. Nobody is safe.
A quote from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, perhaps? Or maybe a historical account of life in Stalin’s Soviet Union? Whilst one would be forgiven for assuming either of these, this is in fact what modern day football has become under the scandalous surveillance regime that is the ‘Video Assistant Referee’ (VAR).
Today, football may be the most lucrative sport there is, with mediocre players earning in a week what NHS nurses earn in a year. Traditionally however, it finds its roots in working class culture: The simplicity with which two jumpers can become goalposts and the sport’s immunity to any climate are just two things that attest to how simple, adaptable and welcoming the beautiful game really is.
But this hospitality has come under strain, with such mass appeal bringing conflict. Enter the referee: a ‘neutral’ judge? Maybe not, for their controversy has made way for the leviathan of ‘control-room refereeing’. As a result of its severe overuse, it sinks hearts, kills the flow of the game, and pulls the rug out from underneath its exciting unpredictability. Moreover, it’s not even 100% accurate!
Make no mistake, no matter your team, this is not based on a few isolated cases. It is the death of football as we know it.