Kicking the tin can of subjectivity down the road

Photograph: DigitalSouthSHM/Rex Shutterstock


So enough evidence has been gathered for one thing to have become certain: VAR is going to start a nuclear war this summer. Whether you’re broadly in favour of the system or think it’s a philosophically flawed pursuit of a circle that can never be squared, you’re just kicking the tin can of subjectivity down the road, it causes more problems than it solves, I mean come off it, is it really worth getting a smattering of borderline decisions right at the cost of hours of NFL-style VT rock-and-rolling and days of interminable, semantic, legalistic post-hoc arguments over the exact definition of “clear and obvious error”, and for what, the dream of a perfection that can never realistically be achieved anyway, what price the soul of football, look, you’re not listening to me, listen to me, stop talking over me, stop shouting, did you just take a swing at me, take your hands off me, that’s the only rational conclusion to be drawn.

Fortunately Gareth Southgate isn’t a boorish, belligerent clown, and afterwards was the model of diplomacy. While he did play the “clear and obvious” card – “It’s one you can debate all day” – he was magnanimous enough to admit “the system can be a success. If we had it in Holland the other night, we would have had a penalty and the opposition would have had a red card in the first two minutes. Here we have suffered from it.” Whether other managers/diplomats/presidents/generals will be as measured in the heat of the World Cup is a moot point. Southgate instead preferred to consider his side’s decent showing in attack: “There’s a lot of positives to take.” Which is nice to hear. Much healthier to coo over the impressive performances of Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard, than obsess over major concerns such as the loss of football’s soul, impending nuclear winter, and the insouciant dribbling style of John Stones.


Who’s on the England plane to Russia? Dominic Fifield dishes out his imaginary airline tickets.

Belgium, Tunisia and Panama: how did England’s World Cup opponents get on? The Fiver hasn’t the foggiest, but thankfully these scribes know.

Argentina are in a mess, England should go for all-out attack and Kylian Mbappé’s heroics are papering over French cracks – it’s our international talking points.

Photograph: AFP/Getty/Action via Reuters/AP

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