Sunday, June 17, 2018

Are you going to watch The World Cup?

When it comes to this year's World Cup, even though I wasn't that excited about the tournament at first, I've started watching the games this time too. I have found time in my schedule to watch almost every game that has been played so far.

After all, we're talking about FIFA World Cup, the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world. Anyone who's even remotely interested in football is likely going to follow the tournament and watch these games.

So when it comes this year's World Cup, there are two things that people have been talking about before the tournament. Both these things about the tournament have been in the media and have been discussed almost to death.

The first topic, of course, has to do with the fact that the World Cup is being held in Russia. Some in the media have been saying that since Russia is run by Vladimir Putin, they shouldn't be allowed to host the tournament.

After all, ever since the country was sanctioned for their annexation of Crimea four years ago, this topic has been discussed. There have been talks that they shouldn't be allowed to host the most prestigious sporting event in the world.

In terms of sports though, it's safe to say that Russia deserves to host the tournament as much as any other country. Even though they have never won the World Cup, they have won Euro Cup (in 1960) and are known for their world class players (Lev Yashin for example).

Nevertheless, even though there has been a lot talk about this political side of the tournament, the other thing that has been talked about has to do with the game itself. It's about making sure that the matches are being judged as fairly as possible.

In this case, FIFA World Cup 2018 will be known for introducing the VAR system. This new system (video assistant referee) means that every important game moment will be reviewed in real time by the video team that will assist the referee on the pitch.

In reality, this is a great improvement, because over the years there have been so many horrible calls by the referees. There have so many horrendous calls by clueless - sometimes even corrupt - umpires that have ruined these games.

After all, when you have decisions that involve things like penalty kicks, red cards, offsides and whether the ball went past the goal line, it's not easy not to make mistakes. It's not easy to make correct split second decisions all the time.

In that sense, now that the tournament has been going on for some days, it's obvious that the new VAR system works. The new system has managed to correct already more than a dozen wrong decisions made by the referees.

After all, even though the VAR system hasn't and won't be able to eliminate all the bad calls in the game, it will eliminate most of the mistakes that the referees make. It makes it much more likely that the right team wins in the end.

In the end, that is what should be the most important thing when it comes to this 'beautiful game'. It should be about making sure that we get to concentrate on the game itself and not on the umpires screwing things up.

After all, even though there are those who say that bad referee calls are an integral part of the game, I don't agree with that. I don't think that we should tolerate awful decisions just because we've gotten used to those over the years.

On the contrary, those bad calls will only hurt the game. They will only hurt the game and will make us concentrate on all those bad things about the game instead of the good ones that are more important and that actually matter.

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