In a recent turn of events, football legend Gary Lineker has expressed his dissatisfaction with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system. This comes in light of a controversial decision during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Aston Villa.
The Gunners faced a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Unai Emery's side on Saturday, causing them to lose valuable points in their pursuit of the Premier League title. John McGinn's early strike at the seventh minute was enough to secure all three points for Villa Park, bringing them within one point of second-placed Arsenal.
However, it was not just this defeat that left fans and pundits alike disgruntled. The match saw yet another instance where VAR became a topic of heated debate.
Mikel Arteta, Arsenal manager, believed his team had equalized during stoppage time when Kai Havertz appeared to fumble the ball over the line. However, much to their dismay and frustration, VAR ruled out this potential game-changer for an alleged handball by Havertz.
This decision sparked outrage among Arsenal fans who argued that Matty Cash also touched the ball with his hand during its trajectory towards goal - an argument that added fuel to an already raging fire around VAR decisions.
The VAR incident was a hot topic at BBC Sport’s Match of the Day show
Discussing this incident on Match of the Day was former Arsenal striker Ian Wright who shared his views on what transpired. He explained how close proximity made it difficult for players like Cash and Havertz not to touch the ball with their hands unintentionally.
Former Arsenal striker, Ian Wright, explained:
"The ball is so close to everybody. It's hit Matty Cash's hand, it's hit Havertz's hand, but the law says it cannot hit your hand anywhere and it's the most ridiculous law. The defenders can accidentally handball it but the forwards can't."
Gary Lineker, who has been a long-standing supporter of VAR, admitted that he 'doesn't like' the system anymore following this incident. This sentiment echoes a growing concern among football fans and experts about how VAR is being implemented in matches.
BBC Sport pundit, Gary Lineker, said:
"Why are we trying to stop goals? The people who make the laws of the game, why are they doing that? Really bizarre, It's ridiculous, I have to say I really don't like VAR very much anymore. I was one of those that advocated for it and I actually feel quite guilty and I was definitely wrong. It's spoiling the game.”
The Aston Villa vs Arsenal match has once again brought to light the ongoing debate around VAR’s role in football. While its purpose is to ensure fair play, instances like these raise questions about its effectiveness and consistency. As more voices from within the sport express their discontent, it remains to be seen how this technology will evolve to better serve the game.