While by no means perfect, many times once VAR has intervened to make a decision that should be final. The men in the booth are meant to ensure that anything clear and obvious has not been missed by the on field referee, who is dealing with a fast paced game and is always likely to suffer from human error. However, after VAR had intervened to rule out Rune Paeshuyse’s goal in added time during the Eupen v Standard Liege clash, the home sides head coach would not accept the ruling.
Former Werder Bremen head coach Florian Kohfeldt continued to protest the decision, which led to referee Jonathan Lardot going to the booth. However, this was strange as VAR had already confirmed to the referee that there was an offside and the goal shouldn’t be given. It was the adamant Kohfeldt that managed to sway Lardot to second guess the VAR. Sure, VAR can make mistakes. However, allowing a coach to influence a referee’s decision could set a dangerous precedent in Belgium and beyond. The German, in fairness, had seen on the sides own monitors what he believed to be no offside. However, VAR had seen more angles and a decision had been made.
Coaches within Belgium will certainly copy this sort of action from Eupen’s head coach. Now that a precedent has been set, it will be hard for the Belgian FA and its referee’s to put a lid on it. Standard head coach Carl Hoefken’s likened it to playing a joker, and even said after the game he wouldn’t mind being able to do the same. Yet the game then ended up going on for well over 100 minutes, as a call that had been made by VAR was being second guessed. In the end, Standard ran out 3-1 winners.
What this does bring into question is also how VAR is viewed by coaches. Fans have long been skeptical of the new system, but now it appears even coaches are not willing to trust the system. Where trust doesn’t exist, there will be more pressure on referees to now second guess their friends in the booth.
Lardot’s actions were by no means against the laws of the game. The referee has the right to go to the booth to look at a decision, as it is he or she who is ultimately the decision maker. However, allowing a head coach to influence their decision to go and second guess the video assistant could certainly create a dangerous precedent going forward.