The Warm-Up: VAR solves all our problems once again
The Warm-Up isn't necessarily anti technology in football, more anti basically everything that comes from technology in football
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
VAR to the rescue again, solving all arguments
The good thing about the Video Assistant Referee – which sounds slightly less like a merciless robot sent for your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle than VAR – is that it removes the uncertainty from football. All arguments are solved. Never again will anyone have any cause for complaint about a decision. Controversy as we know it is over.
Of course, the Warm-Up doubts that anyone actually believes that, but if they did then they’re in for a frightful shock. The latest example of this fallacy came in Wednesday’s World Cup game between France and Norway, when the all-powerful touchline screen was called into action and a penalty was awarded to the hosts after Ingrid Engen supposedly fouled Marion Torrent in the area.
Engen’s crime seemed to be ‘kicking the football then failing to stop her foot from moving any further, as it caught Torrent on the follow-through. It feels like a rum old world when this can be given as a spot-kick, but you’d forgive if it was awarded in real time, but in this case it was an incident that was made less clear the more and more you looked at it.
The most relieved woman in the house must have been France’s usually imperious centre-back Wendie Renard, whose brain briefly left her at the most important moment and scored an own-goal under zero pressure, donating an equalising goal to Norway. As it is Eugenie Le Sommer converting the penalty gave France a 2-1 win, meaning they top their group and it will now take a particuarly vengeful act of God to prevent them from qualifying for the knockouts.
Ultimately you could argue that this wasn’t a problem with VAR, more an interpretation of rules that are badly written, but it’s a little like trolls on Twitter: the problem is the trolls, more than Twitter, but Twitter exacerbates the problem by shining a light on them. And so, also VAR.
Bad news, every other team: Pep’s going nowhere
If you’re involved with a big team in the Premier League, the relentless march of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City must be fairly demoralising. No matter what you do, no matter how good you are, no matter how smart your thinking is, the chances are they will just batter you anyway, because they’re bigger, better, richer and almost certainly smarter than you.
"No. I do not take sabbatical years. I am young and I have desire. The news comes out and many things are not true. If they do not kick me out, I’ll stay there. We all want to win the Champions League because it is the most beautiful thing. The important thing is to try again and in our case we will do it again. If we fail, we will try again, as the important thing is to be there until the end."
There it is then folks. He’s here for the duration. No stopping them. Mercilessly winning, destroying everything in their path. Nobody can stop them. Football!
HEROES AND ZEROS
Hero: Miguel Angel Gil Marin
It’s a grim old world out there, and it would be easy to be consumed with pessimism about the state of everything. That’s why it’s admirable that Atletico Madrid big cheese Miguel Angel Gil Marin is keeping his chin up, by insisting that Barcelona are going to buy Antoine Griezmann. “I’ve been certain where Griezmann will play next season since March,” he said. “He will play for Barcelona.”
They better had do as well, for Atleti’s sake: after Griezmann announced he was leaving, there was really only one place he could go, and if not then they would be left with an unhappy, rotting asset. But if you say things enough, if you’re positive about them, then maybe they will come true. Well done Miguel Angel Gil Marin: your optimism is an example for us all.
Zeros: Major League Soccer
Sure, you could make the argument that the only way for Major League Soccer nudge football into a crowded sporting marketplace is to get the stars, and with a limited budget the only way to get the stars is to concentrate that budget on them. But is it really moral and defensible that one of those stars – in this case Zlatan Ibrahimovic – is paid $7.2 million (a MLS record) while the average base salary is $376,000? Zlatan could pay most of his colleagues out of the change on his dresser, and that simply cannot be healthy.
On this day in 1986, Jose Batista was in a hurry. In Argentina’s World Cup game against Scotland, it took the defender a mere 56 seconds to get sent off for absolutely ploughing through the wee ankles of wee Gordon Strachan, and then looking surprised when the red was flashed.
"Once again I am hugely grateful to the community that will not allow us to forget the great under-reported story of this Women’s World Cup: men. Most specifically, the men who are not watching it. We hear so much about the tournament itself. Too much, it is argued – and at the expense of one of the four great civil rights questions of our era: 1) When are we getting a White History Month? 2) When is International Men’s Day? 3) Isn’t it time we had Straight Pride? and 4) Can you imagine how sexist people would say it was if we had a men’s World Cup?"
Thick and fast baby, thick and fast. Two more World Cup games for your enjoyment today, with the game of the day being Brazil taking on Australia, while South Africa v China isn’t quite so diverting, but it will pass a couple of hours as we all hurtle towards our inevitable doom.
Another way to kill some time before that doom is to read tomorrow’s Warm-Up, which will be brought to you by Tom Adams.