Recently while on assignment in Miami, World Soccer Talk sat down with soccer commentator Andrés Cantor to get his take on Video Assistant Referees (VAR) as well as his thoughts on the growing popularity of Spanish-language broadcasts of Premier League matches.
As someone who is a perfectionist when it comes to calling soccer — or fútbol, in his native language — we wanted to discover how VAR has impacted his iconic gol calls. Plus, we wanted to hear his opinion about the rise of his son Nico Cantor who works as a broadcaster for Telemundo’s biggest rival.
Christopher: Has VAR changed the way you commentate in terms of the excitement and the passion when you don’t know if the goal is going to be called back?
Andrés: “Not yet. I’m adjusting to it just as everyone else is. I’m going to be very blunt. I hate VAR — especially the way they’re using it in England. You can’t start calling offside off armpits.
Before VAR, there was an indication that if the linesman had a doubt about the offside decision, not to raise the flag. And now suddenly an armpit is offside. And I think that’s ruining the game.
Has it affected my style? I call it live. And if it’s a goal, it’s a goal. And then if they go to the VAR, I don’t call it again. I’ve already called it.
There were a couple of instances where I called two goals in one match that I believe were ruled out. It’s not about me, of course. It doesn’t matter what I feel, but it strained my voice twice for nothing. (laughs). Just on a personal note. Again, this isn’t about me.
But it has not changed my style yet. But sometimes I’m a little bit more hesitant when I see that perhaps they’re going to go to the VAR and rule it out. ‘Should I call it?’ ‘Should I not call it?’ ‘Should I yell it out?’ ’Should I not yell it out?’ So definitely, I’m adapting to the VAR in the way I call games.”
Christopher: Is the Premier League more of a focus now for the Spanish-speaking audience?
Andrés: “It’s hard to say whether it’s the preferred league or not. It is a very good league especially when it comes to the top two or three teams. Then from the half of the table down, I’m not so sure that people will engage with a Norwich against Burnley game over a Valencia-Leganes game. Liverpool, right now to me, are the best team in the world. They’re playing awesome football.
What I will say is that the Premier League is the league that has the most effective playing rate of any in the world. If you get to 90 minutes, you probably have 75 to 80 minutes of non-stop action. In Latin America, especially, the time wasting and faking… oh my god. The game gets stopped quite a bit. In England, it’s just go, go, go, go. They don’t stop and that makes it a very attractive and entertaining football and television experience.”
Christopher: Your son, Nico Cantor… every time I watch him he seems to be getting better and better as a presenter and as a commentator both in English and Spanish. How proud are you of him, and does it make for interesting breakfast table discussions between the both of you since he’s working for TUDN, the biggest competitor to Telemundo Deportes?
Andrés: “First of all, thank you very much. He’s finding his own voice. I am extremely proud of the way he’s maturing. He’s 26. He’s a young adult. And professionally, he’s doing awesome.
We discuss a lot over dinners especially about VAR. He’s more millenial-type thinking that VAR is here to fix the game. Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not against VAR if they use it correctly But the Hand of God goal, take that to VAR. The flagrant offside? Go to the VAR.
I don’t know why they’re not doing this in England, but at the World Cup we’ve seen that they’ve told linesmen not to raise the flag if they have a doubt. Let the play end because if it ends in a goal, then the linesman says there was offside, then there is no need for VAR.”
Every weekend, you can hear Andrés Cantor commentating Premier League games in Spanish-language on both Telemundo and Universo. Here’s the latest TV schedule.
This summer, Andrés will be heading to Japan to commentate soccer games in Spanish for Telemundo’s coverage of the Summer Olympic Games.