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The Biggest VAR Blunders

VAR was brought in to make football fairer - to reduce errors and to make sure that the right team won. Here we look at some of the biggest VAR blunders in recent times.

Ankit Kanaujia
Last updated: 18.10.2023
The Biggest VAR Blunders

VAR was brought in to make football fairer - to reduce errors and to make sure that the right team won - right? So, why is it failing so spectacularly? Recently, it seems to have caused more problems than it’s solved. Four years after its introduction and it’s got no better. In fact, some may argue that the Liverpool vs Tottenham debacle was one of the most calamitous yet! Some have even asked that it be banned completely. 

These errors affect everyone. Liverpool lost a much-needed point - and fans not only saw their team lose unfairly but there are those that probably ended up losing their bets as a result. For those looking at the Premier League odds this weekend - how many will take a VAR error into account when making their picks? Not many… yet some might end up becoming the next victim of this embarrassment.

So, with that being said - let’s take a look at some of the other embarrassing VAR gaffes recently.

August 2022: Chelsea 2 Tottenham 2

Let’s be honest - hair-pulling has no place on the football field (or anywhere else to be fair). However, this apparently didn’t seem to matter to Cristian Romero who grabbed a handful of Marc Cucurella's flowing locks during Chelsea's match against Tottenham at the start of the 2022-23 season. While it may seem insignificant, it was this incident that eventually led to Harry Kane scoring a late equalizer.

Surprisingly, VAR failed to notice Romero's clear and obvious breach when they reviewed the goal, and it ended up costing Chelsea two points against their arch-rivals. The decision was made by Mike Dean, who later admitted that, despite being experienced, he was still fallible and made mistakes. As sweet as that is, we’re sure Thomas Tuchel probably didn't find much comfort in that.

August 2023: Man U 1 Wolves 0

When the final whistle blew, it was a Man U win - however, Wolves certainly put on an incredibly impressive performance at Old Trafford in the opening weekend of the 2023-24 season, deserving one point at least. Gary O'Neil's frustration at leaving empty-handed was exacerbated given the way the match came to an end.

In the dying moments, Wolves' striker Sasa Kalajdzic collided heavily with Andre Onana while attempting to cross the ball. Some say that, if this hadn’t been in a football game, it could have even constituted an assault. However, referee Simon Hooper didn’t seem too bothered - and they didn't even choose to use VAR on it at all.

Following the match, PGMOL - as they do - issued an apology to O'Neil and his team. Again, this was no real consolation for a team always wanting every point they can get.

February 2023: Arsenal 1 Brentford 1

Every goal in the Premier League undergoes a VAR check before it’s officially given… well, all of them apart from this one, it seems. In a very weird turn of events, Lee Mason was so engrossed in trying to work out whether Ethan Pinnock had influenced the play moments earlier, that he decided not to check the goal itself.

Later on, when the goal was looked at, it became evident that Christian Norgaard, the architect of  Ivan Toney's equalizer against the Gunners, had himself been in an offside position. This embarrassing blunder came at a critical point in the title race - as they were going toe to toe with Man City. The PGMOL did issue an apology to Mikel Arteta, however, the Arsenal manager appeared unwilling to acknowledge it.

Arteta's response was clear - he needed 2 points back and not a sorry.

That’s literally just three of the most recent major mistakes by VAR. There are so many others that we could probably write a book on it. From Liverpool’s antics against Brighton to Soucek’s random sending-off against Fulham, the list goes on. But what is the solution? Some want it scrapped, others want the system changed - and others simply think that, in the end, the mistakes even themselves out in the long run, with all teams benefitting and all teams losing out at some points.  Will they find a way to iron out these embarrassing problems in the future? Let’s hope so… especially if you have money riding on the result!

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