Football with VAR “has to learn so much from other sports,” claims Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry is frustrated by protracted VAR decisions he believes are taking the ‘joy’ out of football.

The World Champion isn’t against the technology, but is concerned about how the speed of reviews is affecting the matchday experience for fans and players alike.

Arsenal’s record goalscorer was retired at the time VAR was introduced for the 2019/2020 Premier League season and agreed there was still a gap between current practice and potential when it comes to technology.

“We’re still lagging behind in football, we still have so much to learn,” he said. “What I can see in American football, rugby, cricket or whatever it is, tennis is instantaneous.

“We also know that the referee will give you an explanation, they have a microphone, they speak. Will you obviously be struggling with the computer’s decision in tennis? If you start doing that, you’re in trouble.

“At VAR, I get annoyed that it’s not fast enough. Then it’s still the decision of someone in a truck or wherever they are because it’s not VAR making the decision, VAR is just there to remember the situation.

“And then the man in the truck calls the referee to say you made a mistake or you didn’t make a mistake. Sometimes they help, yes, sometimes they help, no, but I can understand that people can make mistakes.

“[Semi-automated offside] In the Champions League, for me, as long as it’s fast, as long as it’s fast and we have an explanation, I can see that the player was offside, then it goes on.

“What’s annoying is when you get lost in translation, when one is told something, another, the rule changes the week after that, it can get difficult. We still have a lot to learn in football.”

Speaking at the Leaders Week Sport Business Conference at Twickenham Stadium, Henry reflected on a successful career that included 228 goals for the Gunners in all competitions.

He joked he was a singer and would have “complained about the grass, the wind, me, the coach, the weather, even if there was a computer, I would have said he was lying”.

However, as an observer of the modern game and assistant coach of the Belgium national team, Henry has been honest in his frustration at video reviews that seemed to tarnish the sport.

“What we want to see is that the game goes on,” he said. “Another thing that is very difficult for me is that I used to score goals as a player. Once in a while [now] You don’t even know if you have to jump.

“Am I jumping? am I partying? am I not celebrating? It kills the joy of the game.”

Although Henry’s opinions vary when it comes to VAR, his enthusiasm for another innovation, VR, is more unbridled.

Henry believes football can learn a lot from other sports when it comes to the use of technology (Ashley Western/PA)

(PA Archive)

Henry is an investor in Rezzil, a training technology that uses VR headsets to enable elite athletes to train remotely for everything from exercise to rehabilitation exercises. He believes it has “limitless” potential.

“Five minutes or ten minutes before a game to review something,” said the 45-year-old.

“Now you’re looking at the goal, you’re going to play it, you’re going to have it in your head, instead of playing it from another point of view, you have it in your point of view from that day forward.

“Instead of playing it in your head, you have it. It is there. It’s you again when you consider the goal, and then work with it. If I was a player, oh my god, I would have capitalized on every single minute of it.

“Every single opportunity for me to be a meter, half a second ahead of someone, or to understand what happened, I would have used better than the other guy.”

He added: “I’ve always said that for me, the game is a state of mind. I’m still at it, but it’s a state of mind for me. This is how I breathe, this is how I sleep, this is how I eat. The game is everything to me.” Football with VAR “has to learn so much from other sports,” claims Thierry Henry

Fry Electronics Team

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