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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

The similarities between VAR and Brexit

Montgomery T Bear is a writer and adventurer. He is also, obviously, a bear. Born in the forests of Sweden, he has travelled extensively and now resides in London with his landlord Mrs Wilson.

I’ve been very excited by the World Cup this summer. Well it seems fairer to say I have been caught up in other people’s excitement surrounding the World Cup. My good friend Robin is a huge fan and has watched every single game. I am not sure if he has got any work done for the last two weeks.

My neighbour Mr Ramesh is the same. He seems to have been dropping in and out of every game. But he runs his business from home. So I supposed that makes life easier. Jess, who runs the shop at the end of the road, has kept me up to date with any games I missed. She always knows what is going on. I’m not sure about my landlady Mrs Wilson, she never seems to watch any of the games but always knew what had happened. She’s Irish so she wasn’t pleased to see France do so well after “that handball incident”.

I know the World Cup creates discussion because it puts people on different sides. Robin is Australian but was supporting England, Mr Ramesh was supporting Croatia because that is where Mrs Ramesh is from, Jess is English but said she was also supporting Uruguay because of a “sweepstake”. Mrs Wilson just wanted the best team to win. Unless it was France.

But before the games started Mr Ramesh and Robin had a long discussion about “Var” appearing at the World Cup. Mr Ramesh was very excited. Robin was not. I thought “Var” was a player originally and spent a long time looking through my sticker book to find out who he played for. Jess eventually told me it was VAR and it is the video replay system which they are using for the first time.

According to Robin it slows the game down and isn’t always right, so it is a waste of time. He said it ruined the World Cup. Mr Ramesh says it is important to use all possible technologies to make it as fair as possible and make sure there are no “terrible injustices” on the pitch. But a few days ago he admitted it wasn’t quite working out the way he expected and he was disappointed to see it hadn’t quite gone to plan. Mrs Wilson says she quite likes it because it makes things more exciting and could be the best thing to happen to football.

I asked Jess what she thought. It’s what I usually do when I’m not sure about something. She can usually give me a sensible answer and that is a good place to start when you are thinking about something. She said VAR “potentially a very good idea, but it hasn’t necessarily been gone about the right way. It could be very good but at the moment it’s a bit of a mess.”

I wrote that in my notebook because I thought it was a good thing to remember. But then I realised I’ve written that sort of thing in my notebook before. I looked back through and found a very similar sentiment written on a page from a few months ago. But this page was not about VAR. In fact, it wasn’t about football at all. There was just one word at the top of the page: Brexit.

Then I realised something; Brexit and VAR are very similar.

Think about VAR for a second. It has been talked about for a long time. It is touted as a solution to a number of problems, not least a good way of putting a stop to a perceived unfairness. But that is an unfairness which some have accepted as a part of life and they fear that a move to remove it could make life worse. The argument is that it “evens itself out in the end”. But eventually the pressure became great enough and they decided to give VAR a go. But not in a small way. In a big way. On an international stage where the stakes could not be higher. And they did it quickly. And it hasn’t quite worked out neatly. There have been lots of problems, and those problems have been written about and talked about a lot. There might be some positives, but they haven’t been mentioned as much. The truth is that right now we don’t know if VAR will be a good thing in the future. Putting something new into effect is rarely smooth and any problems have been closely scrutinised.

Now think about Brexit. Well, it’s sort of the same isn’t it.

Ironically, I think there are a few people who would like the Brexit vote result to be referred to VAR, but that’s another issue. And it might get it wrong. It does that.

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