Aitor Elizegi On Recent VAR Controversy “It’s Been A Tough Week”
“It’s been a tough week”. Those were the first words Athletic president Aitor Elizegi used to describe the recent VAR controversy when asked about it on Radio Popular. For two straight games Athletic have been denied late penalties which could have changed the outcomes, but the plays weren’t even reviewed by VAR which has left the coaches, players, and fans very frustrated.
“I’ve slept very little, but I feel proud,” Elizegi continued. “We’ve made it through four very difficult games against Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, and now Sevilla. In all four we showed our face and in the ones we lost we were very close to scoring and deserved more. We’ve faced about 50 internationals from different countries.”
Elizegi has often been a supporter for VAR, but the recent issues have given him pause. The technology exists to make sure that calls on the field are correct and that hasn’t been the case lately.
“It’s a tool to make the refereeing team better, but you can’t make mistakes twice in the same play. I don’t know why we’re afraid of correction. At the speed at which the game is played it’s normal to need corrections. Reviewing something can take six seconds, the same amount of time that Iñigo was being grabbed and held. Hopefully in the future this will be taken into account.”
There’s been more controversy than ever before since the season resumed and some have gone as far to say that there is a conspiracy going on. Elizegi doesn’t agree with that, but commended manager Gaizka Garitano who finally spoke up following the loss to Sevilla.
“No, I don’t believe that, not at all. On some occasions decisions have gone in our favor. Garitano was very lukewarm on Sunday but yesterday he took a step forward and complained about error against his team in three important plays. The foul that led to Banega’s free kick to tie the score, a foul on Capa that led to Sevilla’s second goal, and the penalty on Iñigo Martínez on the corner kick. Let VAR work on reviewing these plays without fear. Sometimes there are interventions on plays that don’t need it and sometimes there aren’t interventions when something important has happened.”
Athletic currently sit three points off of Europe with just nine points left to play for. “It’s necessary to finish well in these last three games, showing our face as we have always done,” Elizegi concluded. The Basques will have to win all three of their final games to have a chance at qualifying for Europe.