Referees labelled real villains in VAR farce
THE last thing A-League bosses wanted was for the VAR system to dominate the narrative in its first round of matches.
But that's exactly what they got in two of the standout fixtures of the opening weekend, leaving pundits, coaches, players and fans either staring blankly or reacting angrily at rulings that acked clarity.
Melbourne Victory were on the receiving end in their high-profile 2-1 derby loss to Melbourne City, when Bruno Fornaroli's innocuous tumble earned a VAR-awarded penalty for the winners.
It was a mirror image in Wellington, where the Phoenix benefited from a late penalty after Mitch Nichols was bundled down well off the ball.
The subsequent spot kick sealed his team's 2-1 defeat of the Newcastle Jets.
And it reared its head in Brisbane's 1-1 draw with Central Coast on Sunday, Adam Taggart denied his equaliser after a lengthy review for off-side that went against the Roar striker in another marginal decision.
Former player and coach John Kosmina was among those to slam slam the technology following a controversial weekend.
"VAR, or the referees or whatever they want to call themselves, doesn't work," Kosmina said
"If you've got the assets there to change it or correct it then you have to use it.
"That (Fornaroli) foul, wasn't a foul and that wasn't a penalty."
Former A-League golden boot winner Daniel McBreen added: "I was in the camp that there was no foul whatsoever.
"I'm in the same boat as Kozzie - if the referee looks at that video and sees a foul then I don't know what is.
"He needs to go back and hold his hands up.
"You have the video, don't be afraid to use out and don't be afraid to make a mistake."
While the video review system continues to cop criticism, former Socceroos star Archie Thompson pointed the finger of blame elsewhere.
"The referees are the ones making the mistakes," said Thompson, who saw his former side Melbourne Victory hard done by the VAR.
"It's the opening round of the A-League and we're already looking at VAR.
"I'm afraid it's not the technology, it's the people."
Jets coach Ernie Merrick supported the VAR's use at the World Cup but agreed officials in Australasia will need to up their game quickly.
The most experienced coach in A-League history reckons the technology could throw up a landslide of unfair rulings and turn fans away.
"I would think the problem's not the VAR, it's the application of the VAR," he said.
"I suppose technically any foul in the box is a penalty but every corner kick there's a lot of pushing and shoving and if you stay on your feet, nothing happens.
"If you fall over like Fornaroli, you get something."
Merrick suggested only the referee, not a VAR official, should decide if an incident is worth referring.
He also said there should be a time limit employed, so referees can't go several minutes back for a review, as happened with Nichols.
"Do we go all the way back to the toss of the coin?" he said.
Roar coach John Aloisi and his Mariners counterpart both agreed that the system needed work, pointing to the inconsistencies in its administration and apparent overuse in a second half littered with referrals.