VAR (Very Average Referees) Academy
It is the mid-season review at the VAR Academy, where all the ‘referees’ get together to assess how things are tracking and to check if all the refs are on course to meet their season KPIs.
It’s 9.30am and the full thicket of EPL referees (google it, it’s the collective noun for idiots, closest I could find) are present at PGMOL HQ.
“Right, guys,” starts Michael Riley, “today we are going to have a little test. I’m gonna run through a few scenarios and we are gonna see if you can get them right. Top of the class gets to ref this year’s FA Cup Final”
“Scenario 1: The centre forward receives a cross in the box, completely misses the ball and kicks the centre back on his follow through.”
Michael Oliver jumps in first, “Come on, it’s obvious, Penalty and take out your earpiece so you can’t hear the 4th official!”
“Next, Scenario 2: The centre forward is running into the box with the ball, with the centre back approximately 1m behind him. As the forward brings back his foot to strike the ball, one of his studs brushes the centre backs knee and he falls to the ground in a Tom Daley-esque dive. What is your decision?”
Again Micheal Oliver’s hand goes up instantly: “That’s an easy one, penalty, red card. Next!!!”
“OK smart arse, try this one… Scenario 3: Harry Kane is standing next to the centre back and Spurs are playing route one. As the ball is in the air, Kane looks at the defender, drops his head, backs into the defender (while he is in the air attempting to head the ball) causing him to go over the top of Harry and land in a heap on either the pitch or on Harry.”
“Can these get any simpler” spouts up Mike Dean. “Blatantly a free kick to the majestic England Captain, Harry Kane and a minimum of a yellow to the obviously inferior defender.”
“OK,try this one for size. Scenario 4: The ball is crossed in from a corner, but before the centre forward can make an attempt to move towards the ball, the goalkeeper wraps his arms around him and wrestles him to the ground. The ball eventually goes out over the goal line.”
Martin Atkinson is first to pipe up, “Goal kick and don’t even bother with VAR.”
“Next, Scenario 5: Salah is through on goal with no defenders within 5m of him. Suddenly, there is a loud bang in the stands and Mo’s arms go up in the air and then falls to the ground as if he’s been shot. What do you do?”
Micheal Oliver is again the first cab off the rank: “Please…..Penalty, Red Card to anyone within 10 yards, end of discussion”
“And finally, Scenario 6: a winger cuts into the box and his attempted cross is blocked by the outstretched hand of the full back.”
Andre Mariner, finally gets his moment in the spotlight, “Nothing, just nothing, no second thought, no consultation.”
Michael Riley, checks, consults the video adjudicator and to add to the tension, puts his hand to his ear piece.
Before he can announce the verdict on the big screen, Michael Oliver stands, hands aloft.
“Eat s**t suckers, I am the averagest referee, the Cup Final is mine!”