KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —– Uli Stein, former German national team goalkeeper, has come down against the rush to introduce video refereeing after new-season problems in Germany and Holland.
The 62-year-old former Hamburg and Eintracht Frankfurt keeper believes a better option might be to allow each team a limited number of appeals per match.
Stein, in a column in the respected German magazine Kicker, wrote: “In principle I am in favour of techological assistance in sport. Especially today, when so much depends on it, everything possible should be done to ensure correct decision-making.
“However, for me, the way the video assistant is being deployed is all wrong . . . that someone in a far-distant studio should have such influence.
“From what I have seen so far of the trials it seems to me to end up somewhere between ‘comical’ and ‘unworkable.’
“We have seen on television that it’s just not ready. It’s more like theatre than justice.”
The VAR system depends on the referee, on the advice of an assistant in the stadium or the video official, taking advantage of the next break in play to review an incident.
A referee may either accept the opinion of the video assistant or view a replay on a pitchside monitor.
The trial being run in the German Bundesliga uses a ‘central solution’ with VARs for all matches assembled at a single location in the DFL’s Cologne Broadcasting Center.
By contrast most other leagues seat the VAR in a mobile studio at the stadium.
The DFL has said its own version “ensures that the VARs’ working conditions are of consistently high quality . . . and allows a supervisor to monitor the VARs and help them make difficult decisions when needed.”
Gianni Infantino, the president of world federation FIFA, is determined to force through approval of the VAR system in time for the World Cup finals next year in Russia.
However Stein, in Kicker, suggested that the law-making International Football Association Board could study usefully the way video reviews operate in different sporting disciplines.
He added: “They should look at how other sports use this. Our sport has undoubtedly benefited from a set of unified laws which have barely changed down the decades.
“But, like other people with whom I have talked, I think it could be a good idea if every team had a limited number of opportunities to challenge a decision.
“The referee and perhaps a representative of the team could then look at the incident in question before the referee, possibly assisted by the fourth official, makes a final decision.
“This would not always bring agreement but sport is also about differing emotions.”
Flaws evident at the Confederations Cup in Russia in June in terms of communication and time lag were underscored by events in Germany and Holland on the same curtain-raising weekend for this new league season.
In Germany the technology failed when Robert Lewandowski scored for Bayern against Borussia Dortmund to level the Supercup at 1-1.
Dortmund protested that the Pole had been offside but when referee Felix Zwayer consulted video official Tobias Stieler the system had crashed. Zwayer decided that the goal was valid and was proved right by independent television replays.
In Holland, simultaneously, there was worse in the Super Cup between Feyenoord and Vitesse.
Referee Danny Makkelie, instead of awarding what should have been a penalty to Vitesse, let play run on until Feyenoord counter-attacked to increased their single-goal lead to 2-0. Only then, play having stopped ‘naturally’, did Makkelie consult his video assistant, rule out the goal and award Vitesse a penalty – from which they equalised.
The match finished 1-1 and Feyenoord went on to win on penalties.
Stein made 512 appearances in the Bundesliga between 1976 and 1997 with Arminia Bielefeld, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Hamburg again and Bielefeld once more.
He played six times for West Germany and was a member of the squad which finished runners-up at the 1986 World Cup but was dropped after describing manager Franz Beckenbauer as a “laughing stock.”
Stein later had brief spells as goalkeeping coach of Nigeria then Azerbaijan, under the management of Berti Vogts.
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