LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino fears the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) could kill the emotion in football after the system came under scrutiny again in his team’s 6-1 FA Cup win over third-tier Rochdale on Wednesday.
Tottenham had an early goal disallowed by the VAR, who then awarded them a penalty in their fifth-round replay at a snowy Wembley Stadium.
That spot-kick was converted by Son Heung-min, only for referee Paul Tierney to chalk off his effort and book the player for stopping during his run-up, leaving the match balanced at 1-1 at halftime, with emotions on the pitch running high.
“It was so complicated because of the new system, it was difficult to keep focus on the game,” Pochettino told the BBC.
“I told the players to keep focused at halftime. The circumstances were difficult. I think we have the best referees in Europe or the world but I don’t know if this system will help them or cause more confusion,” the Argentine added.
“It is a game of emotion. If we are going to kill this emotion I think we are going to change the game.”
The FA Cup is one of a number of competitions around the world, including Serie A and the Bundesliga, which are trialling VAR this season.
These trials, however, have not gone entirely smoothly with arguments among supporters and pundits often focusing on the length of time it takes for decisions to be made and how fans are left in the dark about the reasons behind them.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said that he wants to use VARs at the World Cup in Russia this year and law-making body IFAB is expected to decide on Saturday whether to authorise its use on a permanent basis.
Pochettino’s sympathies lie with the referees having to work with the new system and with fans in the stands.
“It’s difficult for the referee,” Pochettino said. “I feel so sorry for the referee and more I feel sorry for the fans because it’s so difficult to understand the situation.
Reporting by Toby Davis, Editing by Ed Osmond