Bundesliga referee can understand VAR criticism

Bundesliga referee can understand VAR criticism
Sebastian Gishamer
Image: GEPA pictures/ Oliver Lerch (GEPA pictures)

The referees do not drive a uniform line, emphasize LASK goalie Alexander Schlager and Sturm Graz sports director Andreas Schicker. Bundesliga referee Sebastian Gishamer can understand the VAR criticism that his guild is not only affected in Austria. “We would also like it if we were given a correspondingly clear line.”

The “Association of Footballers” (VdF) invited Bundesliga players to a VAR discussion on Wednesday evening on the occasion of its 35th anniversary under the motto “We have to talk”. Because currently hardly a game day goes by without controversial referee decisions. Players, officials and referees were among the participants. Without a high-ranking ÖFB representative on the podium, there was not much objection; rather, all actors shared the desire for professional refereeing.

Demand for full-time arbitrators

Again, there was a demand for full-time arbitrators, which is associated with many open financing issues. However, it was also shown that positive change could start on a small scale. For example, FIFA referee Gishamer misses a structurally anchored feedback loop after the match day when it comes to VAR. “I would like to go into more depth, bring in more structure. Ultimately, we are currently ‘only’ getting the resolution that everyone is getting in the media,” said Gishamer, looking at the official VAR website and the associated Twitter account.

However, the man from Salzburg also emphasized that the compatibility of full-time work and refereeing made quick, in-depth analyzes difficult. However, he personally could imagine a life as a professional referee with the appropriate financial security. Gishamer also let it be known that not all colleagues are happy with their area of ​​work. “One feels more comfortable as a referee, the other has more quality in front of the screen. But the current situation is that everyone is used everywhere at regular intervals.”

“Noticeable in every match”

And according to Schicker, he always does his screen work with a lot of personal touch. Even without knowing the name beforehand, he knew which referee was sitting at the respective game “in the basement in Meidling”, said Schicker. This can be read from the ratings of the respective game scenes. “It shouldn’t really be that. But it’s noticeable in every match,” said Sturm’s sports director.

With the appointment of a full-time specialist, things should now get better. “A position was created in the ÖFB that should take care of even more professional structures, precisely these red lines,” explained David Reisenauer, the Bundesliga board member for game operations. Tasks in the elite referee area, which are still part of the honorary post, are to be gradually transferred to the main post in the coming months, as the ÖFB, which is responsible for refereeing in Austria, has already announced. According to reports, this person is not only wanted in Germany – and is probably equipped with extensive skills.

Schlager for more tolerance when dealing with missed whistles

Goalie Schlager has now spoken out for more tolerance when dealing with false whistles. “We demand perfection, but the conditions are not so ideal that you can demand that.” The national team goalie explained some of the indignant outcry on the field in a very original way: “We players, to be honest, don’t know the rules enough either. We also don’t know when the video assistant referee will intervene.”

The VAR has been in Austria’s Bundesliga since the 2021/22 season. It was introduced to “correct clear and obvious wrong decisions” in the four game-winning scenes goal, penalty kick, dismissal and identification (yellow/red card). The technical aid costs the league around 1.5 million euros per season during ongoing operations.

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