MENTION VAR these days and, coupled with an inevitably harassed sigh, one phrase you are almost certain to hear is “clear and obvious”. Ah yes, we may not agree on every decision, but we can all agree on that principle, right? But what does clear and obvious even mean?

If I’m driving in my car and the weather report coming over the radio tells me it is a beautiful sunny day, while my window wipers are lashing torrents of water off the windscreen, I can clearly and obviously conclude that the meteorologist has picked up the wrong end of the weathervane.

Likewise, if I step outside on a beautiful, sunny January morning and my foot sinks into a foot of cold, white stuff on the garden path, I can clearly and obviously assume it snowed at some point during the night.

The meteorologist is clearly wrong. My assumption is obviously correct. Clear and obvious.

This is the standard of decision-making VAR is supposed to assist officials with through its application in football. You made the decision to allow a goal, and clearly there was a foul; obviously someone had strayed offside. No second thoughts, no second, third, fourth and fifth looks, no perpendicular lines, no reverse angles, zooming in, no room for debate.

Glasgow Times: The referee reviews Scott McTominay's goal against SpainThe referee reviews Scott McTominay's goal against Spain (Image: SNS)

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The way VAR is ruining our game is in the trigger-happy nature of the CCTV operatives poking holes in every call made by the match officials in a manner that leaves them reluctant to make decisions in real time and players and fans reluctant to embrace key moments in games as they await the inevitable three letters appearing on the big screens around the ground. And it’s affecting all teams equally.

Rangers were ribbed for taking their concerns to the Scottish FA over VAR’s role in disallowing Kemar Roofe’s first-half goal in the first Old Firm match of this season at Ibrox. With the score poised at 0-0, who knows what the outcome would have been if Cyriel Dessers’ foul on Gustaf Lagerbielke in the build-up to that strike was not referred to referee Don Robertson after Roofe finished off the attack. Celtic went on to win the match 1-0 and currently hold a seven-point lead at the league summit.

Glasgow Times: Kemar Roofe thought he had opened the scoring for Rangers in the recent Old FirmKemar Roofe thought he had opened the scoring for Rangers in the recent Old Firm (Image: SNS)

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Celtic, meanwhile, were stung themselves when the lightest of flicks off Daizen Maeda’s offside boot before Luis Palma scored what surely would have been the winner in their Champions League clash against Lazio at Celtic Park recently was picked up by VAR. The Serie A giants went on to score an injury-time winner themselves and Celtic’s wait for a first home victory in the competition remains at the 10-year mark.

Glasgow Times: Luis Palma thought he had given Celtic a late lead against LazioLuis Palma thought he had given Celtic a late lead against Lazio (Image: SNS)

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Then it was the turn of Scotland and Scott McTominay. The Manchester United midfielder thought he had given the Group A leaders in European Championship qualifying the lead in Seville with a sensational free-kick struck from an acute angle which flew past Unai Simon and sent the travelling Tartan Army into raptures. Cue those dreaded initials flicking up like a V-sign on the screen inside La Cartuja Stadium and the writing was on the wall – all of 16 minutes later when the decision to chalk the goal off for an infringement/offside (does anyone actually know?) by Jack Hendry as the set-piece was being taken. What happened next? The Spaniards got a goal themselves almost immediately afterwards and went on to win 2-0 to narrow the gap at the top of the section. After defeating Norway on Sunday in their game in hand – which ironically sealed qualification for Steve Clarke’s side – Spain usurped Scotland in first place.

Glasgow Times: Scott McTominay's free-kick for Scotland goes into the netScott McTominay's free-kick for Scotland goes into the net (Image: SNS)

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The SFA’s own reaction afterwards was to mirror Rangers’ approach and appeal to governing body UEFA for answers. In the aftermath of the defeat, Ryan Christie, the Bournemouth and Scotland forward who started for Clarke’s side against Spain, called for UEFA to clear up the confusion surrounding VAR. “It’s so frustrating,” he said. “We’d done what we came here to do, we were at our best as we got into the second half. I felt they were running out of ideas.

“Then we got Scott McTominay’s goal that turns out not to be a goal. It was tough to take. I didn’t even know there was the possibility of a VAR check. I’m off celebrating, Scott’s off celebrating, everybody’s off celebrating.

“Then the ref’s telling everyone on the pitch that it’s for a push, then when we go to see him afterwards he’s saying it’s offside. But if it’s offside then he doesn’t have to go to the monitor, does he?

“So, that’s the main problem here, there’s no clarity. If no one in the stadium knows what the decision’s been given for, then it can’t be clear and obvious.”

Glasgow Times: Ryan Christie celebrates with the Tartan Army in SevilleRyan Christie celebrates with the Tartan Army in Seville (Image: SNS)

What’s less clear and obvious is where football’s governing bodies stand on this issue. The whole discourse around when and how VAR should be applied has been enshrouded in mist. It is obvious that UEFA and national bodies like the SFA must move quickly to clear this up – and aligning with the principle of clear and obvious is staring them blankly in the face.

In an age when supposedly simple solutions to complex problems are lapped up by people impatient for their desired outcomes, VAR is currently a political football being passed from club to club, governing body to governing body, and as it stands everyone loses. Supporters, like those at Ibrox, Celtic Park and in Seville this season, are the worst-affected. Fans are the first to complain when a big decision goes against their team. But that doesn’t mean the solution is an overbearing, Big Brother approach. “We keep hearing from everyone that these things have to be clear and obvious”, says Tartan Army favourite Christie. Well, it’s time that was cleared up in every governing body in the game.