Since then, a multiple of this unbearably long period of time has been spent on debates about Willenborg’s decision – without the debaters having yet come to a legally valid result.
Some say that thanks to the intervention of the video assistant (VAR), the referee was right in the end because touching Christensen should never have resulted in a penalty.
The other faction, in turn, insists that the VAR should not have intervened in the first place because Willenborg’s original decision was not clearly wrong. The fact that Christensen had touched Borré’s foot was finally proven beyond a doubt by the TV pictures.
The video evidence is celebrating its first small anniversary in German football these days. It was introduced exactly five years ago. And isn’t it a nice thing that at a time when there are hardly any other certainties, at least the VAR has remained a reliable variable? He’s annoying like the first day!
No, of course that’s not a nice thing – especially not because the video evidence will stay with us forever and ever. There is no turning back, even if the organized fans rebel against him again and again and, quite rightly, lament the loss of emotions. Goal? Or not? To cheer? Or not?
The video evidence will remain. It is all the more important to (further) optimize its use. Recent developments tend to point to the opposite. Especially in German refereeing with its traditional tendency to be overly correct.
It’s worth looking back at the beginnings and at a scene that probably played a crucial role in the acceptance of the video evidence. It’s about the mistakenly given goal by Leon Andreasen for Hannover 96 against 1. FC Köln. Wrong, because the Dane punched the ball over the line with his hand – which pretty much everyone saw, except for the referee on the field.
We were told that it’s only about such really dramatic wrong decisions. The referee remains the boss, his authority untouched because the assistant in the basement is just a silent assistant. The reality is rather different. Lutz Michael Fröhlich, head of German refereeing, said back in the spring: “There is more of a tendency to think about a lack of intervention than about excessive intervention.”
And so the supposed assistant becomes more and more the chief referee, because meanwhile every fart is checked and double-checked again, and with the erroneous view in the back of one’s mind that television images, unlike human perception, are incorruptible.
Peter Knäbel, the sports director of FC Schalke 04, found a beautiful image for this ominous tendency after the inexplicable intervention of the VAR in his team’s game in Cologne. Lots of department store detectives are sitting in the basement, always on the lookout for a previously undiscovered crime.
Yes, that’s human, because no one likes to be prosecuted for a mistake they may have overlooked. But wasn’t the point of the video evidence: to significantly reduce the influence of the human factor with all its weaknesses?