Charlie Austin’s emotional outburst was one of the highlights of gameweek 12 and you can see for yourself just above if you haven’t already. His anger was well placed after his fine header was ruled out for offside before Watford equalised with a deflected late goal. This only added to the anger and if it had finished 1-0 to Southampton we wouldn’t of had this wonderfully, passionate rant signalling the officials out. But whether you feel for Austin or you have any sympathy for the officials who only have one look at it in real time – it does pose the question, is VAR inevitable in the Premier League?
Southampton have struggled this season, currently siting in 17th after this draw, they have continually struggled to score goals managing only eight goals so far this season (joint second worse with Crystal Palace) After Gabbiadini gave them the lead, they thought their lead had been doubled through Austin’s strong header in the 66th minute. Only for the celebrations to be cut short by Hooper claiming Yoshida in an offside position interfered with play affecting the keepers view. All involved with Southampton showed their clear anger with the decision which left a sour atmosphere, to make matters even worse Watford equalised through a deflected shot from Holebas from just outside the box.
Then came the aforementioned interview. A passionate outburst from a hardworking player who has come up through the leagues was very pleasing to see – a lot of people think football players don’t care but to those people I say, watch the video above. He was just saying what everyone is thinking. The frustration we see has built from the poor start they have made to the season and being denied the goal they must have felt they were due has angered Austin and players and fans alike. Especially considering with the late goal and the manner of how it was scored courtesy of a big deflection, only added to everyone’s building rage. It does beg the question that incidents like this are what VAR was created for. This is one incident of many that have started to build up the discussions about the technology that is being utilised in other top leagues as Austin said – this is the most watched best league in the world and the officials need help.
VAR is a very divisive issue, but its clear that officials need help as the pace of the game has increased in recent years. It was successfully used in the World Cup in Russia and was implemented in La Liga in Spain after – therefore how does the most watched league in the world not have the latest update in terms of football technology. The Premier League was the first major European league to have goal line technology implemented after the Fifa Club World Championship. But, currently the A-League in Australia, Seria A in Italy, The Bundesliga in Germany and La Liga in Spain have VAR and is being debated being brought in for the Knockout rounds of the Uefa Champions League.
Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore has described it as “inevitable” that VAR will be introduced to the Premier League in the future, as clubs voted against it for this season, the more incidents that occur such as this will begin to push the initiative. Of course, there are criticisms with the system but most of the teething problems associated with it occurred during the early phases of its implementation. It’ll be more widely called for if referees make bad decisions in higher profile games, no disrespect to Southampton or Watford, but if the same thing happened in the Champions League final or Manchester City vs Liverpool, more people are directly watching it leading to more discussions, more reviews more opinions. Where as 10 or 20 years ago, fans might laud a decision that went against them that was clear as daylight such as the Luis Garcia ghost goal or the penalty scandal of Chelsea vs Barcelona – these issues could soon be a thing off the past in the two most watched events – the Premier League and the Champions League. And then, football will have to find something else to debate.