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Jose Mourinho Chimes In On VAR Debate

Real Madrid CF v Club Atletico de Madrid - La LigaPhoto by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Liverpool’s VAR mishaps have fueled conversation all across the football world.

You may not care what Jose Mourinho thinks about the ongoing VAR debate sparked by Jordan Pickford’s unpunished horror tackle that ended Virgil van Dijk’s season. But, if nothing else, you should care that Mourinho unironically said, “I always accept the referee’s mistakes.”

Ok, ok, fine, here’s the whole quote in the interest of fairness:

“I think the attention [the incidents have received] is based on the fact that there is a VAR. Without VAR, the situations on the pitch happen and the human being, the referee, makes mistakes. And you know me — for quite a few years, it was difficult for me to accept the human mistakes but I learned and in this moment, I always accept the referee’s mistakes.”

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The argument Mourinho appears to be making is that it’s harder for people to accept these bad decisions when they come from VAR than from referees making snap choices in the heat of the moment.

“What we don’t accept is the VAR mistakes. So I think if the referee of that match [the Merseyside derby], 100 mph, the situation happened, the linesman gives an offside, everybody would say: ‘Ok, it was a bad tackle but it happened and it’s done,’” he continued.

This point makes sense psychologically. If the game pauses for a VAR check, there’s more time in the moment to rewatch and analyze the incident. This makes it feel like a much bigger deal that it would if a referee misses a call, but the game keeps moving.

“If the referee makes that mistake, everybody understands because the game is 100mph but with the VAR, how can that VAR make that mistake? And the situation of Pickford for me is the same. It’s the VAR, it’s not the referee,” Mourinho concluded.

Presumably, he means that the problem comes from the rules and regulations surrounding the use of VAR and the way it is implemented. The other option here is that Jose Mourinho thinks that VAR is the name of some kind of sentient AI that is making game-changing decisions without a referee involved. That would actually be kind of awesome. Instead the reality was referee David Coote sitting in front of a state of the art television screen, watching the same thing we all were, and making a terrible mistake.

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2020-12-02

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