Andy Robertson has warned fans are falling out of love with football amid the continued controversy surrounding video assistant referees.
The use of VAR has been a huge source of debate since its introduction with fans and players alike having bemoaned the technology, with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expressing his frustrations following the club’s 1-1 draw with Brighton last weekend.
Robertson was adjudged to have fouled Danny Welbeck in stoppage-time after VAR intervened, with referee Stuart Attwell reviewing footage of the incident on the pitch-side monitor before awarding Brighton a late penalty.
The contentious decision came after Mohamed Salah saw a goal disallowed after VAR adjudged the Egyptian offside by the narrowest of margins, whilst a similar incident also saw Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins denied a late goal at West Ham.
VAR was introduced in order to overturn ‘clear and obvious’ errors from on-pitch officials, though its usage continues to divide opinion with a growing clamour for the technology to be scrapped.
Robertson has joined an increasing list of players to express his dissatisfaction with VAR and has warned fans are falling out of love with the game amid lengthy pauses for reviews.
“I used to love going to games and just being in that moment of being able to celebrate a goal,” Robertson said at a pre-match press conference ahead of Liverpool’s home Champions League clash with Ajax tonight.
“That is being taken out of the game a wee bit. Now you are waiting two or three minutes to see if a goal is onside or offside and for me, if it is that tight, then leave it to whatever decision was originally made. There are lots of things you can go over, but Milly’s tweet was echoing what a lot of footballers and fans are feeling.
“A lot of people I have spoken to are not enjoying football as much as they once did because it is constantly in review, constantly on a screen and you are still not getting the consistency we are looking for. I agree with Milly. A lot of footballers and a lot of fans would agree with him, too.
“Football is a great game that we fell in love with, and are still in love with, and it is important we don’t lose that. I am all for change and we have to move with the times but it is important to remember the key values of football that made us fall in love with it.”
Robertson has questioned whether VAR is providing the ‘black and white’ decisions that were intended with the introduction of technology, and has offered his verdict on how the game can be improved, suggesting many players would not oppose a return to ‘naked eye’ officiating.
“Maybe ex-footballers, ex-managers and ex-referees should be involved in some of the decision-making that is happening now,” the Liverpool left-back said.
“In the last 18 months to two years there has been a lot of change in the rules in England in particular. Kevin De Bruyne said the other week that he wasn’t sure of the rules any more and we can all echo that. When VAR came in we believed there would be no grey areas, it would all be black and white, and I don’t think we are quite getting that now.
“I have no problem if my tackle on Saturday is a penalty. If the rules and the referee deem that as a penalty then I have no problem with it. But I watched games yesterday and saw two very similar instances on Marcus Rashford and Adama Traoré that went unpunished. They looked very similar to what I did to Danny Welbeck. Both of them were not a penalty and mine was. All three have to be a penalty or all three were not penalties.
”We are just looking for consistency. We believed we would be getting that with VAR and we are not getting it. If we are still discussing referees’ decisions after VAR then I would much rather leave it up to the referee’s naked eye. It is much easier to accept mistakes made with the naked eye than when there is so much technology around.”
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