Those in charge of Football Federation Australia must follow the VAR out the door after another display of the VAR and Australia's inept referees cheating the Wanderers, snuffing out a potential comeback in what should have been a classic Sydney Derby.
Sydney FC scored an early goal just 4 minutes into the match. Adam Le Fondre standing in an offside position at a free kick, hung around after a half-clearance, the ball fell to him after a shot back in. Vedran Janjetovic smothered his initial shot but another piece of luck had him smack the rebound into an empty net. Replays showed that not only was Le Fondre offside at the free kick (but according to the VAR, somehow not interfering with play), but that Mahazi had been interfered with by an offside Brosque. The score was 1-0, and the VAR did nothing.
After the break the Wanderers were two behind having gifted their opponents a golden chance to score. On the edge of their own area, Sotirio played a hospital ball to Josh Risdon, and instead of trying to clear, he played a sideways pass intended for Mahazi that was intercepted by Ninkovic, and he pounced to play through Brosque and his first time strike beat Janjetovic at the far post.
Despite going two behind, the Wanderers did show some of the vaunted mentality Markus Babbel has been trying to instill in his charges, but when they finally converted one of their chances to score, it was cruelly and idiotically over-turned by the inept Chris Beath with an assist from the VAR. Baumjohann and Risdon worked down the right flank, the Risdon cross made it's way to the other end of the area where Roly Bonevacia smashed an 18 yard first time rocket past Andrew Redmayne.
With no real protests from the home side, the VAR intervened to take away the goal. Chris Beath decided that Michael Zullo had been fouled by Jaushua Sotirio in the lead up to the cross. While Sotirio was in an offside position, Zullo's choice to dive into Sotirio while meters away from the ball was rewarded with Beath over-turning the decision by declaring Sotirio had fouled the SFC defender. in the aftermath Markus Babbel exploded at the fourth official, remonstrating to show his disgust at the call. He was awarded the A-League's first "Coach Red Card" by Beath. Babbel then walked around the long boundary of the Sydney Cricket Ground, a route that took him in front of the RBB who roared their approval.
The failure was compounded in the post-game with Beath being interviewed and stating that the decision was actually offside, even though vision showed clearly that his decision was that it was a foul. Additionally, his interview stated that the linesman who was as close to Sotirio as Zullo was to Risdon, had completely missed the offside/foul and that the decision was solely made by VAR and himself.
It was another display of referees who aren't good enough to be officiating our most important football games.
Enough is enough.
This is not just the VAR. Although it needs to be cancelled immediately. The VAR failed from the moment it was introduced. Bad decisions have been made since Wellington Phoenix were robbed against Sydney FC in Round 26 in 2016/17. Perth Glory were robbed in the Semi-Final in that season. The technology failed Newcastle Jets in the Grand Final last. It failed to detect Bruno Fornaroli diving in the recent Melbourne Derby. It tonight secured another game for Sydney FC. Offsides are a lottery. Tonight WSW have a goal taken away for offside. Last year Adelaide when playing against us had a clear offside goal investigated by the VAR be allowed to stand.
The Wanderers were cruelled against Perth Glory when sideline cameras failed to be in the right decision for an obvious offside, leading to a red card against us. It ignores certain laws like encroachment at penalties, and offsides against players standing offside from free kicks. When looking at holding in the penalty area from set pieces the VAR is seemingly over intended to confirm whatever decision was made on the field. When a decision isn't made on the pitch by the referee, the basic law against holding is ignored by the VAR. The level of intervention around forceful tackles once saw the Mariners reduced by two players from VAR decisions, while other tackles that could break legs are ignored in other games.
This is the result of a long held refusal by the FFA to enforce basic standards of officiating skill. We have seen officials give baffling offsides against players standing behind the ball being played. We have seen offsides given from a throw in. There is zero consistency in the application of offside. There is zero consistency in the application of handball. Certain teams received baffling leniency when playing tactics that deliberately disrupt their opposition with professional fouls in the midfield.
The time for incremental change is over.
Now that the FFA Governance saga is over, I call on whoever makes up the new FFA Board to immediately sack FFA Chief Executive David Gallop, Head of the A-League Greg O'Rourke, FFA Referees boss Ben Wilson, and A-League referees Chris Beath, Jarred Gillett, Kurt Ams, Peter Green and Shaun Evans. The FFA/A-League positions must be filled with people passionate about football. The VAR must be immediately cancelled and never return to Australian football.
Get in touch with the football associations in German, England, Japan and Holland. Ask for the phone numbers of some consistent referees, who might be inclined to spend 6 months in the Australian summer. Bring them over.
The current people in charge of Football Federation Australia have lost the trust of the football community.
The new FFA Board must take the chance to rebuild the foundation of our sport in a positive, intelligent matter to take the sport forward once again. We risk turning the A-League into a joke, and having it be abandoned to the ruin of all the good work done by the players, clubs and supporters up to now. If the FFA fail to rectify the situation, a repeat of the ban list fan boycott is on the cards, and was called for by Mark Bosnich in the Fox Sports post-game show. I would wholeheartedly approve of that action.