Football Controversy Abounds as Managers and Pundits Lay into New VAR's 'Shambles' System

"I think the referee has got that one wrong there."

Statements like that, made by BBC co-commentator Jermaine Jenas during the FA Cup fourth round tie between Chelsea and Norwich on Wednesday (January 17), were meant to have been practically eradicated with the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Jenas was reacting to the decision of referee Graham Scott to produce a yellow card for Chelsea winger Willian after he went down in the penalty area. Scott said dive, but replays showed contact before the Brazilian went down.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was enraged by the decision, confronting Scott and his assistants after the final whistle. The controversy comes just 24 hours after VAR had its finest moment so far, as Kelechi Iheanacho's goal for Leicester against Fleetwood was given after review.

So how has the new technology fared so far? Here, Newsweek takes a look back at the comments from those involved:

Conte: "If we want to try to use this new system, it is important for the referee to wait, especially in this incident that is not so clear.

"And then when the referee that is watching had a doubt, he has to call the referee to watch and he can make a decision. The referee on the pitch has to make the decision, not one off the pitch.

"We can improve it for sure but we need to try to take the best solution. The final decision is for the ref on the pitch. Otherwise, why is there this ref?"

BBC pundit Alan Shearer: "You saw VAR work perfectly well last night [in the Leicester vs Fleetwood tie] but you've seen now why I was so doubtful because it is a shambles. We all think it is a clear and obvious penalty—and to make it worse, the referee books Willian for diving. Who on Earth is looking at that screen and doesn't think it is a penalty? That is why it is all wrong because it is someone else's opinion.

Video Assistant Referee
Cameraman films the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, England, January 8. VAR was used for the first time in the FA Cup on Monday (January 8). GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty

Leicester manager Claude Puel: "It was a good thing for us. The video is not perfect because we should have had free kicks for fouls on [Vicente] Iborra but, for the goal, it was good."

Fleetwood manager Uwe Rosler: "Sometimes even VAR is not clear. In general—don't complicate football too much. The game is beautiful. Let it be pure."

FA chief executive Martin Glenn: "The FA generally thinks that in a few years' time we will wonder how we ever lived without it. We were a big supporter of VAR being embraced in football after years of it being challenged by Sepp Blatter and FIFA. The big question now is: should we put it into the World Cup?"

Former England and Manchester United defender Phil Neville: "I'm confused. I am not a fan. I like the English game as it is, with talking points. Referees get decisions right and get some wrong. That is football. If it wasn't for VAR tonight, we'd be talking about it maybe being a penalty. Now we'll be talking about it for the next two days because of VAR."