Missing: La Liga’s VAR officials.
Something strange has happened in La Liga over the last few weeks.
Since the introduction of VAR in Spain’s top flight, fans have become used to almost everything being reviewed.
Be it a hairline stroke of the boot of a player hurling themselves to ground or a half centimetre separating a striker from his marker, VAR has taken time off the clock to get to the ‘correct decision’.
The start of this season didn’t feel too different, but in recent weeks, there has been a change of plan…we think.
There hasn’t been any official communication on the use of VAR in La Liga, but it seems to have gone missing.
Replays seemed to clearly show Leandro Cabrera taking the ball from Memphis Depay, but the penalty was awarded anyway.
The only defence? At least VAR was used.
This week, Barcelona appeared to get away with two penalties against Villarreal.
First, Gerard Pique slid in and blocked the ball with his arm. Now, whether it hits his hip or his arm first may be open to interpretation, but not on the part of VAR, which did not intervene.
It could not have been a clearer foul, but once again, no VAR intervention. Hello, is anyone there?
“There are real people in the VAR and someone has to take responsibility,” fumed Villarreal boss Unai Emery at full-time. “Someone has to explain why we were not given a penalty.
“It’s not normal that VAR did not give us anything; perhaps they were asleep.”
Around 24 hours later, it was Real Madrid’s turn to get away with one.
Los Blancos defeated Sevilla 2-1 thanks to Vinicius Junior’s brilliant winner.
Not only was no penalty given, but once again, it wasn’t even reviewed.
“Everything that could have gone against us, has been given,” Sevilla boss Lopetegui said after the game.
“They tell me that the penalty is very clear, they didn’t want to review it and after that, they make the decision and we have to abide by it.”
So, what is going on? Has VAR directive changed?
If so, then fine. Less VAR intervention is not something most fans would object to, but it must be made clear to the players, coaches and fans.
Until then, everyone involved is expecting the same rules to apply to every team and across the whole competition.
Until then, La Liga are asking for claims of bias towards Barcelona and Real Madrid, especially when there is a complete lack of VAR involvement for decisions that should have gone against those teams, and indeed would have had these games been played last season or earlier in the campaign.