VAR should be scrapped - Ken Early v Dion Fanning
This is not one to be missed.
The World Cup this summer should have had us all forewarned and forearmed ahead of VAR's introduction to the Premier League... Agree or disagree with its merits, it can't be denied that its arrival has been as graceful as a Paul McShane bicycle kick. Technology and its application has been the major talking point after every weekend of footballing action, and even the greatest detractors of international breaks must have appreciated the respite from VAR chatter in the past 10 days.
That's all over.
As part of SportsJOE Live: The Great Debate, we're putting one of the most ardent critics of VAR and one of its most fearful defenders head to head to determine if VAR should be scrapped. Dion Fanning and Ken Early will fight it out as part of a heavily-stacked card in Dublin's Mansion House on Thursday 28th November.
Early, a Second Captains pundit, Irish Times columnist and Ireland's residential flame-haired flame-thrower of truth has made no bones of his disdain for the technology, particularly after Gabriel Jesus' last minute winner for Manchester City against Tottenham back in August was chalked off;
"You see people talking about how VAR takes the emotion out of the game… This is completely wrong. It brings in new, weird emotions. It’s like… time travel, or a “choose you own adventure”, where you get to see how it would have been if Man City won... This is what annoys me about it (VAR). This is entertaining to watch on TV… But it’s cheap entertainment. It’s cheap...This handball is not a handball, but like it is now, but it’s not if it happens in the other penalty area? Come on!...What did Maradonna call football? “Football is a game of deceit”. But look, it used to be. And now it’s just the game of pedantry, the game of ‘oh look, it’s a handball’."
If you've just read that in your own head but in Ken's distinctive style, you can be assured you're not the only one. His unique take on the world, combined with an even more unique turn of phrase, gives way to comparisons like the below;
"I’ve a friend who calls me “gammon” because of my attitude to this (VAR). He says that I’m like (Jeremy) Clarkson or one of those people because of my complaints about this… But he’s like a farmer in the 50s spraying DDT all over everything, he’s just like 'DDT everywhere!'. And I’m the neighbouring farmer who’s complaining saying 'oh I don’t like this' and he’s like 'look at my lush, shiny crops, look at the waxy leaves of my crops', and I’m like 'give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees'."
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) November 9, 2019
Hoping to derail Ken's Big Yellow Taxi-inspired VAR-less utopia is SportsJOE's own Dion Fanning. Since VAR's introduction to certain competitions at the beginning of last season, The Football Spin has become a safe haven for the boffins, bean-counters and nerds who revel in millimetre margins and meticulous application of the law. On numerous occasions, Fanning has made it clear as day which side of the VAR fence he happily resides;
"You can’t uninvent technology. Once there was multiple replays of a situation where a referee’s decision could be demonstrated to be ‘wrong’ about certain things… If Thierry Henry had handled the ball in 1959 instead of 2009 in Paris we would have heard about it and it would have been a story, but we might have been looking at grainy footage of a guy, you know, touching a ball from a camera 60 yards away, a guy maybe touching the ball with his hand and all the players running out. But it would have been inconclusive. But once technology establishes that a mistake has been made, you need to bring in that technology. Because if football had been invented for the first time in 2019, you would have all this technology assistance without any question... That’s the problem with VAR, you can’t go backwards. You can’t uninvent technology, so people will always know, if you get a decision wrong and VAR could have made it right, that’s always going to be worse than VAR."
Just like Ken, Dion has absolutely no qualms in laying out his opinion in exactly the way he sees it, often involving the kind of language that would force Eamon Dunphy to deliver an apology straight down the barrel of a camera;
"I feel like Alex Ferguson when Juan Veron was under attack, and he turned to the press corps and said 'he’s a great player, you are all fucking idiots'. Now, he of course was wrong. But you are all fucking idiots. That’s the take-away!... As they lined up, as people lined up one by one to abandon VAR I said 'fuck this… I’m not going anywhere'."
These two, in a room, battling it out over the most divisive topic in football at the moment... It's just not to be missed. SportsJOE LIVE: The Great Debate will not be podcast or broadcast anywhere else, so if you want to see Early v Fanning, as well as two other cracking sporting debates, make sure to get your tickets HERE before they sell out.