VAR is bad. Can we agree on that part? Cool, because we’re about to discuss a situation where VAR was bad in Tottenham Hotspur’s favor. Howard Webb, head of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL, one of the more tortured acronyms in professional soccer), has apologized to Brighton and Hove Albion after admitting that the match officiating team missed a clear penalty in Tottenham’s 2-1 win over the Seagulls at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.
BREAKING! The PGMOL has admitted a mistake was made by the match officials and VAR when not awarding a penalty to Brighton in Saturday's Premier League game against Tottenham.— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) April 9, 2023
In the 70th minute of the match with the score level at 1-1, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg appeared to step on Brighton attacker Kaoru Mitoma’s foot while challenging for a ball in Spurs’ penalty area. There was no initial call from match official Stuart Attwell and while VAR did have a look at the incident, it declined to intervene.
I’ll be honest and say that I, a genius and Spurs fan, was absolutely gobsmacked that a penalty wasn’t given. Hojbjerg clearly didn’t mean to catch Mitoma on the foot and it was 100% unintentional. But he DID catch him, and it WAS a foul. I can say with complete certainty that if the situation were reversed and this had happened to a Tottenham player, I’d still be yelling about the injustice. Weirdly, in a way I still am, and we benefitted from it!
Wow, VAR concludes no penalty.— Cartilage Free Captain (@cartilagefree) April 8, 2023
Boy, look, I'm a Spurs fan but what's the point of VAR? Isn't that what it's for? Spurs very lucky.
This is now the third time that Webb, as chief of the PGMOL, has had to apologize for the officials and VAR missing stuff on the field that should’ve been called. It’s crazy. I don’t think there’s anyone left in football who thinks that VAR has been a positive addition to the game. VAR was intended to reduce and eliminate officiating mistakes that happen in the rush of action on the field. All it has really done is allow match officials to make different, even more egregious mistakes while delaying the match and not explaining things to the crowd at the same time.
Now look — karmically, these things all even out. Spurs have been the victims of multiple VAR errors this season and in the past. Other times, like this time, VAR mistakes have gone in our favor. I think most Spurs fans know we got away with one with the win yesterday too. But I really wonder — would football be better if officiating was reverted back to making decisions based on what the match officials saw on the field? It sure made us mad back in the day, causing us to argue with strangers and question the vision of officials. But at least it was honest.