The World Cup VAR intervention Scottish officials could learn after Celtic's troubles

By Lewis Laird

November 23, 2022

Although VAR has still had its issues during the 2022 World Cup, Scottish referees and officials could learn a thing or two from those out in Qatar.

With all eyes on the prestigious tournament, there has been plenty of pressure on those officiating the matches in the middle east.

Fifty-six different referees were selected to head to Qatar to watch over some of the best players and international sides from across the globe.

Photo by Maja Hitij – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

During the opening ten games of the competition, as expected, referees and the VAR technology have come under some stick.

Despite those frustrations and mistakes, there have been some positives of the officiating in certain games that has led supporters in Scotland to think that the SFA could learn a thing or two from these performances.

The first major change we have seen introduced during the Qatar World Cup is an extended period of stoppage time in both halves. Yesterday, we went into more extensive detail about how this could benefit Celtic.

On Tuesday afternoon, there was another rare initiative on display that Scottish referees should be taking note of and bringing into the Scottish Premiership.

As Denmark were held to a 0-0 draw by Tunisia, they were a number of potentially contentious handball decisions, which VAR was able to get spot on.

The first decision was a handball from Danish defender Joachim Andersen, with the ball appearing to strike the underside of his arm from close range. Typically, we have seen this call given in Scotland, with Matt O’Riley and Alexandro Bernabei being punished for similar offences.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Mexican referee Cesar Ramos judged that it was accidental and Andersen’s arms were in a natural position; therefore, he didn’t award a spot kick.

As the game was coming to a close, there was another contentious call, this time in favour of Denmark, with a Tunisian defender being judged to have handled the ball inside the area.

VAR called for Ramos to come and have a closer look at the decision before making his final call. Predictably, when a referee approaches the monitor, the decision is almost always never overturned for the defensive side.

However, there was a change in that trend during this game as the man in the middle decided to overturn the call and award Tunisia a free-kick for an initial push at the front post.

It came as a surprise to football supporters across the globe. However, fans were quick to take to social media and praise Ramos for his decision to change his call after visiting the screen.

This is a move that has rarely been seen since VAR’s introduction, and it is one that Scottish referees must learn from when domestic action in this country returns.

SFA must use World Cup example to learn from VAR mistakes.

Since VAR’s arrival in Scotland, any time that a referee has approached the screen on the sidelines, it has felt almost inevitable that the decision will be overturned/given the way of the opposition.

Now, of course, there are going to be examples where the right call has been made by the officials in the ground and VAR room.

However, despite having the option of a second viewing, mistakes are still being made with the new technology in Scotland, which simply shouldn’t be happening.

The screen on the sideline should be used to review a decision and overturn any mistakes made, not pressure a referee into keeping their decision the same, even if it is wrong.

Alexandro Bernabei’s handball against Dundee United offers a good example of this, with pundits such as Michael Stewart criticising the decision.

On two occasions, Matt O’Riley has also been harshly judged to have handled the ball, against Ross County and Real Madrid, with only one of the calls being reviewed on the pitchside screen.

Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

With Scottish Football currently brought to a halt due to the World Cup, you would hope those at the SFA are looking to use this time to learn from their mistakes.

As mentioned, there is plenty that officials in this country can learn from by simply tuning into this tournament and taking note of some of the positive refereeing displays.

Supporters won’t be holding their breath, but fingers crossed, seeing this example can prove to be a stepping stone for the use of the VAR screen in this country.

In other news, BBC 5 Live note Daizen Maeda’s role in shock Japan win; want more Celtic involvement.