Every week throws up fresh discussions over the video assistant referee – and Bundesliga clubs are now demanding answers.
The German Football Association (DFB) is coming under pressure over the use of video assistant referees in the Bundesliga, with every week seemingly throwing up fresh confusion or controversy.
“It’s become worse, not better,” Eintracht Frankfurt sport director Fredi Bobic said on Sunday. “On this matchday there has been an inflationary use of video evidence.”
The introduction of video, watched by referees in Cologne to correct errors made by match officials across the country, for a one-year test phase was met with great hope in summer.
But after only three months the haphazard use of the system and a lack of clarity over its use has sparked great scepticism among the Bundesliga clubs.
Initially it was said the video referee would only intervene if the match official made a serious mistake on the field – based around game-changing moments such as goals, penalty kicks and red cards.
However, after matchday five this premise was softened without the clubs being informed and even DFB president Reinhard Grindel was caught unaware.
With more and more decisions being analysed, the authority of the referee on the pitch has been questioned, though Grindel insisted to ZDF: “The decision is always the referee’s on the green grass.”
Tracing back the biggest problems with video evidence, the root often appears to be within the DFB. The early season communication between referees and assistants did not work due to a lack of preparation and now the sudden increase of power of the assistants.
Bobic called for those at the top to “not only talk but decide. We want the video evidence. We think it’s great. It’s still discussed too much, it’s a constant back and forth.”
Meanwhile, the referees – no strangers to being blamed for many things – face an extra level of criticism.
The video assistants now decide “what happens on the pitch, and that’s wrong,” former referee Bernd Heynemann told the Dopplelpass show on Sport1. “It cannot be that the referee on the pitch is the poor relation.”
Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke backed video usage but called for consistency.
“The video evidence should be taken but it must also be clear how it is handled,” he said. “It must be objective.
“Either every referee goes to the assistant for every controversial decision – or he lets it go.”
Watzke added “something must happen urgently” and the coming international break gives the DFB the chance to take stock.
“It’s imperative that we sit down together,” Augsburg manager Stefan Reuter said. He is “as before, totally for video evidence,” but “the way it goes just now, that there is a discussion every week, is really no fun any more.”
Any discussions are not guaranteed to produce consensus, however, with some already calling for the test to be binned.
“I would say: voice out of the year, pull the plug, play football, decisions in the stadium and nothing else,” Freiburg president Fritz Keller told broadcaster SWR on Monday.