"Bundesliga, we have a problem" could be shouted out loud after the weekend. The blatant wrong decision by referee Sascha Stegemann and the failure of the video assistant referee (VAR) in the game between relegation candidates VfL Bochum and title contender Borussia Dortmund on Friday evening was not about life and goal as it was on the moon mission Apollo 13 before 53 years, but it will probably reverberate for a long time. Stegemann tried everything to capture the heated debate by publicly cringing. He explained several times how the decision came about not to punish the clear foul on Karim Adeyemi in the Bochum penalty area. Stegemann also reported that he and his family had received serious death threats. But nothing helped. The Bundesliga has a VAR problem that doesn't go away with apologies and explanations.
There is a reason for the intensity of the reactions: it cannot be ruled out that the wrong decision will help decide who becomes German champion. Dortmund were deprived of a great chance to win the game against Bochum and defend their lead in the table. The game ended 1:1 and BVB lost first place to Bayern. It would be the first time since the introduction of video evidence in the Bundesliga almost six years ago that the VAR directly influenced a title fight.
Despite all the excitement, the question remains: Why does the VAR regularly cause a stir and criticism in Germany? One reason is certainly the belief of many supporters and also some journalists that every mistake is excluded by the VAR. This was recently pointed out by referee Felix Brych in an interview with stern: In general, people's "fault tolerance" is lower because many believed that "no more wrong decisions will happen now," Brych described the situation. But they happened just like before.
What Brych does not say: Germany may have a quality problem with its referees. Just a reminder: Stegemann, after all one of ten FIFA referees for the DFB, was at the center of a stir this season. Also involved: BVB and Adeyemi, but under different circumstances. On the twelfth day, Stegemann overlooked a foul by Adeyemis on Eintracht Frankfurt's Jasper Lindstrom and decided not to award a penalty. Even then, the excitement was great. That a referee makes such mistakes twice in one season is at least annoying.
In Stegemann's defense, it can be said that the bigger mistake in the current case was made by the video assistant. In this case it was referee Robert Hartmann who only really aggravated the matter by not intervening. He should have instructed Stegemann to watch the disputed scene again on the field monitor. It can be assumed that Stegemann would have awarded a penalty if he had seen the scene with the same images. But as it was, two referees each made the wrong decision. The football magazine "Kicker" pointed out that Hartmann was wrong for the fifth time as manager in the Cologne basement.
So what can be done to improve it? One measure that has been discussed for some time is the introduction of a so-called "challenge". In the "Challenge", the trainers themselves can request the referees to use the video evidence in certain situations. In the American NFL, coaches can request a video review twice per game. There are positive signals for the measure from the Bundesliga: "In such cases, in which obviously wrong decisions are made, coaches should be given this opportunity. Once per half would make sense," said Steffen Baumgart, coach of 1. FC Köln, to the "kicker ". His Bundesliga colleague Thomas Reis from FC Schalke 04 is also of the opinion "that this could be a possibility". It must be about "optimizing processes."
With a "challenge", the mistake from Friday evening would have quickly vanished into thin air.
Sources: "Kicker", "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung", DPA