VAR – Curse or Blessing?: “I will knock down your flag with the crutch”

And again the VAR is under criticism. The scenes over the weekend in Frankfurt showed again: in the end it’s still people who decide – and they just make mistakes. Many years ago Hermann Gerland would certainly have wished for a few more cameras in the stadiums!

The longtime assistant coach of FC Bayern Munich and former Bundesliga professional Hermann Gerland once said: “When I was playing in Kaiserslautern then, bats flew through the stadium there. And then there was a linesman. One of the Lauterers was three meters in. Offside, he dared to raise the flag. But only once. The second time someone was six meters offside. Grandpa with the crutch, who disagreed the first time, said behind him: “You raise the flag one more time. boy, I’m knocking down the flag with my crutch!’ And he didn’t just say that!” It’s one of those anecdotes from a time when video evidence was still a science fiction vision of the future.

Because you should know: At that time, De Sportschau showed a maximum of three matches in the evening and often only one camera was lost in the stadiums of the Bundesliga. Schalke’s 1958 champion player and later long-time president, Günter Siebert, even once said, “When the television came to a game, we all went to the hairdresser.” Football was different then, as you can imagine. Because where there were no cameras, there was plenty of room for some treacherous actions and some refereeing blunders. The pros of that time make no secret of the fact that they had completely different opportunities on the field than they do now. But then football slowly but surely changed.

When football learned TV

In the 1985/86 season, the DFB called in an expert for the first time to interpret television images. At the time, ARD man Rudi Michel had to judge the offense of Bremen’s Bruno Pezzey, for which he had seen red at the match in Nuremberg on February 15, based on TV footage. Michel: “You can rule out that Pezzey tripped. He wanted to avoid the danger after realizing that he could not reach the ball. His motor movement was flawless. But the images lack the third dimension.” Referee Wolf-Dieter Ahlenfelder had interpreted the scene on the field differently: “There are no two yellow cards. The button of the pants comes loose and I have to play red!” Now Bruno Pezzey has been acquitted, mainly because of the words of TV man Rudi Michel. From that moment on, everything was different in the Bundesliga: the DFB watched TV from that moment on!

The road to video evidence was still long. And the development from the time when television was still a rarity in the Bundesliga stadiums to this day, where the mistake of the VAR in the basement of Cologne at the match in Frankfurt was due to the simple fact that he did not of the other “Over 20 different camera perspectives” – as “Collinas Erben” wrote today – is an exciting and eventful one. Because you should never forget that the mere presence of TV cameras and everyone’s knowledge of them has played the game for the past forty years. has always changed.

The VAR remains

Many things, such as “hidden” errors, simply don’t exist anymore these days. Because everything is recorded and then broadcast and discussed. The players know that, of course, and that is why they have automatically and unconsciously adapted their actions on the field to this circumstance. That’s why scenes seem downright grotesque, like most recently in the Champions League in Tottenham, when Sebastián Coates grabbed his hand just in front of the opposing team’s goal to score. However, his reaction afterwards spoke volumes. A rarely stupid action from another time!

Ben Redings

Ben Redelings is a passionate “chronologist of football madness” and a supporter of the glorious VfL Bochum. The bestselling author and comedian lives in the Ruhr area and maintains his legendary anecdote treasury. On Monday and Saturday he writes down the most exciting and funniest stories for More information about Ben Redeling, his current dates and his current book (“60 Years Bundesliga. The Anniversary Album”) is available on his website

Waves around the video assistant hit again over the weekend after the scene between Frankfurt’s Jesper Lindström and Dortmund’s Karim Adeyemi. Quite a few, such as SGE sports director Markus Krösche (“Stamp it in!”), called for the immediate abolition of VAR. A romantic idea in many ways, but not realistic. Because football opened Pandora’s box five years ago with the introduction of the video assistant – and probably never will close it again. The conveniences that come with viewing relevant scenes of the green lawn are just too great. And even the opponents of VAR will not want to go back to the past in certain situations. Because just as the presence of cameras in the stadium changed the game on the pitch in the past, knowledge of the VAR authority automatically prevents many controversial scenes and possible attempts at fraud.

But one thing should be clear to all football fans after this weekend at the latest: Even if some people dreamed differently when the video assistant was introduced five years ago, football will never be a 100 percent fair event. Because in the end it is always people who decide – and they make mistakes. And that somehow, despite all the (understandable) excitement, is a fun and forgiving idea.

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