After Mexico-Argentina I make a gesture of peace: exchange of shirts. You wonder if defeat kept me from soccer, but I remind you that, from my first letter, I boasted of our ability to fall. The strange thing, the bewildering thing, the paralyzing thing, would have been to win. Losing to Argentina is nothing more than an uncomfortable habit, like finding out that on the plane it’s your turn next to the bathroom.
I move on to a topic that concerns me more. Video refereeing aims to put an end to one of the wonders of football: human error. For the referee to be wrong means that the game is more like life, where you receive punishments and rewards not always deserved. 22 ambitious go out to the field to be gods; before them, a person dares to be human.
Endowed with a trembling whistle, the arbitrator delivers the most impromptu jurisprudence on the planet. Sometimes this is unbearable (in Mexico, Parque Asturias burned down in 1939 due to a refereeing error, and Barcelona will never forget that in 1969 referee Guruceta scored a penalty in favor of Real Madrid for a foul committed one meter outside the area). But there are trade-offs; if the whistler errs for our benefit, we shout with grateful cynicism: “Fair referee!”
It is no coincidence that VAR was implemented after the FBI investigations into FIFA. In 2015 it became clear that this “non-profit organization” had the code of ethics of a cartel. How to divert attention from the bribes that began with the millions that João Havelange received in exchange for giving the television rights to Horst Dassler, owner of Adidas?
In 2015, Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were removed from their posts without further sanctions. Gianni Infantino, Platini’s right-hand man, took over the helm and prepared to respect the commitments with the dictatorships of Russia and Qatar.
To minimize the scandal, he moved the search for justice to the court. With calculated demagoguery, he declared: “VAR is not changing football, it is making it cleaner, more honest, more transparent and fairer.” He did not present video refereeing as a technical resource but a moral one. Television would meet the requirements that managers should meet!
That didn’t eliminate the goofs. Sometimes the VAR does not cancel the error, it only delays it, and when the goal is conceded late, the celebration tastes like overheated stew.
VAR is equivalent to answering the phone while making love. Enemy of spontaneity, FIFA has put a phone to bed.
Furthermore, with the automatic offside we have reached an irrational situation. If a player overtakes another with his whole body, it is obvious that he gains an illegal advantage. However, in a scientific effort, minimal parts of the body are measured: whoever has a finger in front of the defender is out of place, although that does not help at all. If it is about dividing the anatomy, at least one criterion should be applied like that of roasted chickens: leg, breast or thigh advantage.
The matter has changed our relationship with the game. My friend Silvestre, who is about to turn five, came home with his parents to watch a game. He is an alert and ingenious boy who knows the players by name and nickname and launches phrases like this: “They are going to put Noodles in Di Maria’s bathroom.” I learned from his comments, but I learned more when, after the match, he made a drawing that reveals an essential characteristic of contemporary football. An archer launched himself after a ball, but the title of the work discredited the game: Goal disallowed. The VAR already belongs to the imaginary of childhood.
Unfortunately, cancel culture is on the rise. In Russia, the VAR was used 20 times, while in the first two days in Qatar alone there were more than ten goals disallowed, including three against Argentina in the same game, which were worth the serenity of a town, and two against Germany (against Japan and Spain) that meant four points. Against Switzerland, Vinicius elegantly scored his first World Cup goal, but the digital deity invalidated it due to a debatable previous action. Luckily, Casemiro fired with three fingers to nail another museum goal.
Qatar’s official ball includes a persecutory sensor that is captured by 12 cameras in the stadium and collects information in search of the offside.
We are about to turn soccer into a video game. Only one obstacle remains to be removed: the players.
A goal hug (not annulled by VAR).
The complete correspondence of Caparros and Villoro during the World Cup in Qatar
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