VAR is the acronym on everyone’s lips and, of course, it is too expensive for us to bring to Denmark for the moment, just as it is with the likes of Scotland. That does not mean, however, that we are not monitoring developments with a keen interest.
“Minimum interruption and maximum benefit” is what you would expect for a slogan, but it’s easier said than done!
All I hope is that everyone can understand that it will take time to find exactly the right set-up.
Some of the numbers in the document, at least, I did find encouraging, such as the claim that the average time taken from a game comes in at a percentage below one, compared to things like substitutions, which can account for something like 3.5% of playing time lost.
Time has always been, and will remain a source of pressure, of course, and I had the benefit of working with TV producers for a while myself, so I know how getting the right slo-mo angle is not always as simple as it might seem.
I also sympathise when someone like Lee Johnson complains that, at Championship level, where they do not have VAR, as an experiment or anything else, that a host club with its own TV station, such as Derby, can in effect conduct its own version using screens that the home manager and the crowd can see and potentially use to pressure officials.
This scenario only underlines for me how important it is that we restrict VAR use to the big mistakes and not for 50/50 decisions, as well as when the referee appears to be the only one not to have seen an incident clearly.
Something else in the document with which I agree is that the objective with VAR cannot be to reach 100% in correct decisions. Let’s remember, as well as that of the crowds, the media and everyone else, we need the buy-in of the players above all else, and they are now entitled to have this joke between them that Big Brother is always watching!
Even with VAR I have seen an example, at Bergamo in Italy during an intermediate game, where the decision was wrong when it came to a penalty for Denmark Under-21s. I was next to the van, or VOR as they call it, at the time, and I had friends texting me it was a clear penalty, yet the angles and the timings just did not come together in time to get this one right.
My view is that the forthcoming World Cup in Russia will need some big successes early on for the system not to cause big problems and risk rejection in the court of public opinion.
The traditional dry run of the Confederation Cup last summer hardly gave us confidence, and once again the wrong decision was reached in one game despite deliberations taking over five minutes.
Whatever happens, the summer of 2018 is destined to be a key milestone in the history of the game in general and refereeing in particular.
From a selfish point of view, it was great to conduct our national referee get-together in a warmer climate for the first time during our Danish Superliga winter break.
Cadiz was our destination having flown via Malaga, and despite that two-and-a-half hour transfer it proved to be a great opportunity to assemble between 60 and 70 refs and show them video clips in an attempt to establish uniformity as a body.
Of course we took the chance to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of VAR between ourselves, while the Spanish weather was certainly of benefit when it came both to training and the social side of the trip, so I can see us doing it again.
Until next time, vi ses, or see you later.