Paolo Casarin, former referee, has shared his views on the recent controversial instances where Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was employed in Serie A and the Coppa Italia in an interview with Corriere della Sera.
Directly, Casarin stated, “The VAR deserves serious, passionate consideration. It was adopted out of desperation: the referee in a Serie A stadium, amidst technical difficulties, was the sole decision-maker, and most importantly, instantaneously, to demonstrate technical certainty to players.”
Casarin continued by questioning the qualifications of those operating VAR. He pointed out that the VAR is typically operated either by retired referees or by those who were unable to continue on as referees due to a lack of technical abilities.
Coming down hard on this mechanism, he expressed concern about whether an on-field referee can transition smoothly to reviewing televised footage without any specific training. He also questioned whether VAR officials tend to over-analyse and search too hard for errors, potentially turning into overzealous foul-searchers.
“The VAR and the referee may have differing views on contacts,” Mr Casarin added, “Why has the involuntariness of hand touches been removed?” He questioned the new guidelines on fouls, mentioning that if a referee gives few fouls (20), it might mean he has missed about 6-7 genuine fouls.
While acknowledging the need for improvement, he called for a thoughtful approach to officiating and the application of technology in football, signalling that there were many lingering questions and a lot of work to be done in reclaiming good refereeing.