IDEALLY, A-League referees boss Ben Wilson would like the VAR to operate in the same manner as the system used by the National Rugby League – fully transparent to players, coaches and fans.
However, FIFA restrictions do not allow for interaction between the VAR and the on-ground official to be broadcast.
It’s a protocol that Wilson hopes will change as world football becomes more comfortable with the use of technology to aid on-field decisions.
“If we could get it like rugby league where you hear the referees talking and you can understand how they came to a decision, people would be much more accepting,” Wilson said.
In the meantime, Wilson said the role of the VAR had been simplified to focus on “clear and obvious errors”.
Jets coach Ernie Merrick is a supporter of the VAR but has been critical of the way it has been implemented in the A-League. Specifically, when and how it is used.
Wilson said the role of the VAR had been scaled back since the start of the season.
“In the first couple of rounds the VARs were a little edgy and were getting involved in things we didn’t want them to get involved in,” Wilson said. “We reset the bar to how it was last year and for the VAR to only get involved in those clear and obvious errors. As a result, there haven’t been too many VAR interventions since and there hasn’t been too much controversy about the VAR in the past few weeks.”
The VAR looked at a number of contentious decisions in the Jets’ 2-1 loss to Melbourne City on Sunday but did not recommend any changes to the on-field calls made by referee Kurt Ams.
The biggest of those decisions was a yellow card for dissent to Jets midfielder Ronny Vargas after he launched a tirade at Ams in protest to a handball decision against the Venezuelan. It was Vargas’ second booking and he was sent off, leaving the Jets with 10-men for 65 minutes.
After receiving the card Vargas appeared to tell Ams to “f… off”. However, Wilson said the attacker had been “mouthing off and gesticulating to the referee quite aggressively” before receiving the second caution.
Jets fans and club insiders have since pointed to examples of other players engaging in aggressive fashion towards officials without being booked. City fullback Nathaniel Atkinson got in the face of Ams during the match but escaped caution. There have been many other similar instances in which players have gone unpunished.
“We don’t have a special on dissent this week,” Wilson said. “There is an expectation that has been long-standing with the referees in the A-League and W-League, that players who show obvious or on-going dissent should be cautioned. It’s a key performance indicator for the referees. If he didn’t take that action, he would have been asked to explain why he didn’t. We are conscious of the requirement to protect the image of the game. Players who swear at referees, get in the face of referees, point aggressively, who show dissent are expected to be dealt with as Vargas was.”