‘I fully support VAR, but it shouldn’t break the spirit of football’ – ex-Chelsea player Smertin RT Exclusive

24 May, 2018 15:17
‘I fully support VAR, but it shouldn’t break the spirit of football’ – ex-Chelsea player Smertin
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© Brian Homewood / Reuters

Former Chelsea and Russia international Alexei Smertin is confident that the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, which be used at this summer’s World Cup, will help to reduce the number of mistakes by match officials.

In an exclusive interview with RT, former Russia captain Smertin, who now works as Russia’s anti-racism chief, praised the VAR system, which was tested last year during the Confederations Cup in Russia and will be used this summer during the World Cup.

The 43-year-old added, however, that the system still needs to be improved.

“I fully support the newly adopted VAR system,” said the former Chelsea midfielder.

“It can certainly affect the result of football matches, but you cannot imagine how disappointing it is to lose a match because of a referee’s error. I do agree that the system needs to be optimized and developed, because it has several imperfections including multiple stops during games. 

"Football is a dynamic sport and VAR should not break its spirit and energy, as sometimes it takes two or three minutes for a referee to review a controversial episode. Of course it may spoil a little bit the beauty of the game, but the final result is more important,” he added.

Smertin also emphasized that VAR will prevent players from diving, as they will know that their actions could be reviewed.

“The game should be fair. Referees have just several seconds to make a decision. Sometimes it’s difficult to identify a foul even reviewing the moment: was it a real foul or diving. So I think that VAR will make football games fair and free from unintentional referee errors,” Smertin said.

The innovative VAR system has been adopted by several top football leagues, including Germany’s Bundesliga and Major League Soccer in the US.

In March, FIFA approved the use of VAR at this summer’s World Cup in Russia, adding that information about VAR decisions will be provided to “giant screen operators as well as broadcasters and commentators.”