Milan (AFP) – Juventus and Italy goalkeeping great Gianluigi Buffon has slammed the “misuse” of the video assistant referee (VAR) system, saying that it makes Serie A “ugly”.
The VAR, footage which can be consulted by the referee on the touchlines to rule on key incidents, is being used in Serie A for the first time this season ahead of its World Cup debut in Russia next year.
But while several VAR decisions have been vindicated over the opening two weekends, mistakes have been made and Buffon, along with Roma midfielder Diego Perotti, is among its biggest critics.
“If you ask me, the VAR is being misused, and out of proportion,” Buffon said Saturday after helping Juventus launch a 4-2 comeback victory at Genoa.
“We were told it would be used sparingly, in a fair and logical manner. Instead, it’s like we’re playing water polo. It’s making the game ugly.”
A World Cup-winner, Italy’s current caps record holder (169), and a losing Champions League finalist twice in the past three years, Buffon’s goalkeeping credentials don’t need debating.
And when it comes to VAR, he has direct experience.
The 39-year-old was part of Serie A VAR history, stopping a first-half penalty in a 3-0 season-opening win at Cagliari last week when referee Fabio Maresca used it for the first time in Italy’s top flight.
Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri called for “patience” as the football world gets accustomed to what some experts believe is the biggest change in the game for decades.
But Allegri could soon see his own patience being tested.
With Genoa leading 1-0 Juventus in the opening minute thanks to Miralem Pjanic’s own goal on Sunday, Juve went 2-0 down five minutes later thanks to a dubious penalty decision.
Match referee Luca Banti failed to spot Genoa striker Andrey Galabinov being offside before he was fouled, clearly, by defender Daniele Rugani.
Juve should have been awarded a free-kick, but Galabinov succeeded where Diego Farias failed for Cagliari a week earlier in beating Buffon with a penalty that should not have been awarded.
Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport said Banti “should not have given the penalty”.
Juventus eventually clawed their way back thanks to a Paulo Dybala hat-trick, one of his goals coming from a VAR-inspired penalty decision following an accidental handball in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time added to accommodate for the consultations with technology.
“Thankfully the lads brought the points home, but in terms of the VAR it will take a little patience. We all need a period to adapt,” Allegri told Mediaset Premium.
“Just as we need to focus on improving in our duties, so too must the referees to make VAR quicker and more effective.”
Roma midfielder Perotti couldn’t have agreed more.
He was livid after not being awarded a penalty decision after being clearly fouled by Inter’s Skriniar as Roma led 1-0. A corner was given, and eventually Inter Milan went on to prevail 3-1.
“It was a clear penalty, everyone saw it,” said Perotti. “They gave a corner, but he (Skriniar) didn’t even touch the ball.
“After this, I don’t have much faith in VAR. If we’d scored from the penalty we’d have been 2-0 up and it was game over.
“I watched Genoa versus Juventus earlier and the foul on me seemed clearer than either of the penalties awarded.”
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