Hearts defender Toby Sibbick: VAR means you can't celebrate goals any more
Hearts defender Toby Sibbick believes Scottish Premiership footballers can no longer properly celebrate a goal after the implementation of VAR.
The new technology has caused much controversy since its introduction last month and it was at the centre of the action again on Saturday as ten-man Hearts needed a last-gasp Josh Ginnelly goal to rescue a point against Livingston.
It’s customary for the winger to be restrained in his goal celebrations, but this one was particularly muted with his team-mate revealing the injury-time hero didn't believe his effort would stand with Livi claiming for a foul on Joel Nouble at the other end and a potential handball by Alan Forrest.
"It’s weird. You can’t even celebrate goals any more because you don’t know if it’s goal or not and if it’s chalked off you will have celebrated for no reason,” said Sibbick. “At the end when Gino scored he didn’t celebrate because he didn’t know if it was going to be a goal or not. It’s playing with people’s emotions. But that’s how football is going to be."
Livingston had the chance to kill the game from the penalty spot after Stephen Kelly had fired him into a second-half lead, but his namesake Sean Kelly saw his attempt from 12 yards saved by Craig Gordon. The decision had been given after VAR intervened for a pull of the shirt by Kye Rowles on Joel Nouble. Many in attendance initially thought the check was for a pull on Lawrence Shankland at the other end.
"We all think they are checking for a foul and a possible sending off but they were actually checking for a penalty,” said Sibbick.
"It’s just confusing and it takes a lot of time. But they are still getting used to the system. Some decisions are questionable, some are not.
“Hopefully it is better after the World Cup break. They came in at the start of pre-season and they showed us some decisions from last season and told us that if VAR was introduced it would be a foul or wouldn’t be a foul. It’s something they are working on but it can be frustrating as players waiting two or three minutes for a decision.
“It must be frustrating for the fans as well but ultimately if they are making the right decision that’s all you can ask for.”
Saturday’s match represented the second time in the space of six days where Hearts managed to dig out a result despite going down to ten men, further underlining the resilience of this Hearts squad who go into the break four points off third despite playing eight games in Europe and dealing with an injury crisis.
"We made it tough against Motherwell when we went down to ten men so early in the game. But we went 2-0 up before they got back to 2-2 — and then we won the game. Today we didn’t stop trying and I feel we deserved something from the game,” said the 23-year-old centre-back.
“For any team, having character is a good trait to have. In football decisions don’t always go your way, and you will face adversity at times. It’s about digging deep and staying together and in the last few games we have shown we can do that.”