The VAR Decision in the Glasgow Derby: A Textbook Case of "Clear and Obvious Error
The recent Glasgow derby between Celtic and Rangers was not short of drama, with a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) decision disallowing a Rangers goal taking center stage. The incident has reignited the debate about what constitutes a "clear and obvious error" in football, a term that is central to VAR's guidelines but often subject to interpretation.
VAR is designed to intervene only in cases of "clear and obvious errors" or "serious missed incidents" in four game-changing situations: goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents, and mistaken identity. The objective is to correct significant mistakes that could alter the game's outcome.
In this particular derby, Rangers thought they had scored a crucial goal, only for it to be disallowed after a VAR review. Upon review, the VAR determined that there was a foul in the build-up. This decision was not only in line with VAR guidelines, which aim to correct any goal scored or created with the use of a foul, but it also perfectly exemplified the "clear and obvious error" rule.
Here's why: It is likely that referee Don Robertson explained to the VAR that he believed the Rangers player had nicked the ball away from Celtic's Gustaf Lagerbielke before making contact, and it turns out that the Rangers player did not actually get the ball, then it becomes a "clear and obvious error." The foul is evident, and the goal should be disallowed, as was the case here. This decision was not only correct but also consistent with previous officiating in similar scenarios. A few weeks ago, in a match between Rangers and St. Mirren, a foul was correctly awarded to Rangers by the referee in very similar circumstances, without the need for VAR.
Rangers have demanded answers from the Scottish Football Association (SFA), questioning the VAR decision. However, based on the protocol, the decision to disallow the goal was correct. The term "clear and obvious" is not as subjective as it might seem when the guidelines are followed.
For Celtic, the disallowed goal was a moment that highlighted the importance of VAR in maintaining the game's integrity. For Rangers, it was a moment that has led to a lot of soul-searching and questions about the technology's role in the sport. Perhaps in demanding answers from the SFA, Rangers may be able to alleviate some of the pressure from the fans following the defeat.
This incident serves as a textbook example of how VAR should function, adhering strictly to the guidelines aimed at eliminating "clear and obvious errors." It adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing debate about VAR's role in football. As technology continues to influence the sport, understanding these guidelines becomes increasingly important for fans, players, and officials alike. Whether one agrees with the decision or not, it's evident that VAR is here to stay, and its impact on football will continue to be a subject of intense scrutiny.