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9th July 2018

Fortunately Boro won't have to worry about VAR this season other than in cup ties on Premiership grounds as the experiment gathers pace in England.

As a former referee it would be remiss of me not to touch on the refereeing at The World Cup and indeed the involvement of VAR.

Firstly so far, the standard of refereeing has been good; the odd decision here or there is bound to be questioned and as the tournament progresses decisions become even more important and under scrutiny.

It always amazes me how officials from lesser footballing nations seem to do so well when they don't have the benefit of experiencing strong domestic football in their own leagues.

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In the first games, especially England's game against Tunisia, the holding/all-in wrestling was scandalous. It seemed that so much was going on that officials were just letting them get on with it.

Under the tutelage of Pierluigi Collina that soon changed and we saw strong action being taken. Let's hope that domestically our own officials are encouraged and supported with a hard line approach. Cards and penalties are the only way to rid the game of these actions that no one wants to see.

It wouldn't be a World Cup if we didn't see histrionics and some of the play-acting and rolling around after the merest contact, or indeed non-contact, has been as entertaining as it was pathetic. Surely retrospective action should be taken or it be added to the responsibility of VAR.

The fact that many supporters, players and managers and certainly commentators and pundits haven't really fully understood what VAR can get involved with is still causing confusion.

We have seen though panels of officials in the VAR studio at every game; the man power would not be available in the domestic leagues back home.

There have been some benefits and decisions have been given to the benefit of the game. The authorities need to stamp down on teams that show mass dissent as we saw from the scandalous Columbians.

Domestically teams are penalised financially when players harass and surround match officials; it's long overdue that similar actions at the very least should be meted out to teams who show a total lack of respect.

The three minute delay before Harry Kane fired England ahead, which included Columbians scuffing up the penalty spot, has to be addressed.

My only other main gripe has been the lack of action taken against goalkeepers for forward movement at the taking of penalties. The officials make such a show of warning the keepers then doing nothing about it.

Overall though the games have flowed and the officials must take some credit for that. There's still a few games to go though.

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