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More VAR Controversy In Scottish Football

You know you’re in trouble when a football manager is seen as the voice of reason. But that’s exactly where we find ourselves after the latest kerfuffle over officiating—and VAR—in the Scottish Premiership.

camera for VAR in scottish football

The Full Scottish

On Sunday, after a debatable red card and even more debatable penalty contributed to Celtic’s 2-0 defeat to Hearts at Tynecastle—and Hoops manager Brendan Rodgers called out the match and VAR officials by name in his post-match remarks—advocates for Scotland’s referees have called for an in-person meeting to clear the air.

The idea was actually first proposed by Rangers bench boss Phillipe Clement, whose own club was involved in its own refereeing controversy in January.

The Scottish Senior Football Referees’ Association issued a statement earlier this week alleging “disproportionate and personal” criticism of its members in the aftermath of Rodgers’ remarks and warning of potential “personal safety” issues facing match officials.

The statement was released 24 hours after Rodgers publicly accused match ref Don Robinson and VAR official John Beaton of “incompetence.” The Irishman, and Celtic, are likely to face SFA punishment over the remarks.

In January, the Hoops’ Ibrox rivals asked Crawford Allan, the governing body’s head of refereeing operations, for Willie Collum to be taken off their matches after a league defeat at Parkhead in December.

A few weeks later, in February, Clement indicated he would like to have a private meeting with his fellow managers and referees to “share opinions.” Whatever that means.

VAR was supposed to provide clarity on key calls and reduce refereeing error. Instead, the technology has often served to raise more questions, while causing annoying delays during matches. Human error—and potential bias—have always been an issue. No camera angles will completely eliminate them from the game.

Whether Robinson and Beaton got those key calls wrong at Tynecastle depends on the beholder. We’ve seen arguments for and against in the press for days now. That said, the SFA denied Celtic’s appeal of the red card against Yang. And there is no remedy for an incorrectly awarded penalty.

Supporters, and managers, have a right to feel aggrieved when their teams are adversely affected by poor refereeing decisions. But these things tend to even out over the course of a season. Keep that in mind if you’re considering a social media post threatening the safety of a referee.

Meanwhile, let’s bin VAR. The old way wasn’t perfect, but at least it easier to live with simple human error.

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