Thierry Henry says VAR in football is ‘not fast enough’ on scoring goals and waiting for results ‘kills the joy of the game’
Thierry Henry, Arsenal’s all-time top scorer and world champion with France, spoke about his investment in virtual reality training company Rezzil and his thoughts on VAR technology in sport.
Speaking at the Leaders Week Sport Business Conference at Twickenham Stadium, Henry said he was immediately excited by Rezzil’s “limitless” use cases. The VR technology, which is also behind Gary Neville and Vincent Kompany, makes VR training programs for soccer, football, basketball and tennis. It was acquired by Manchester City and participated in the inaugural cohort of the NBA Launchpad program.
Henry said the cognitive part of the game was underdeveloped, and when he first saw a demo of Rezzil he said, “‘Okay, that’s something where I can see the game.’ Because a coach often tells you: ‘I’ll make you faster, I’ll make you stronger and so on.’ But it’s weird that you can’t have something or someone to say to you, ‘I’m going to make you smarter and help your muscle memory that you have.’”
Describing the brain as the best camera money can buy, he added, “I always say your eyes are useless if your mind is blind.”
Henry, whose eventful career has also included notable stints with Barcelona and the New York Red Bulls, was head coach at Monaco and Montréal Impact. He is now an assistant with the Belgium national team and has shared his thoughts on VAR, the video assistant referee. Henry said VAR is helpful but football can learn from other sports. He said it was “not fast enough”, particularly on goalscoring, and described a goalscorer not knowing whether or not to celebrate until VAR’s decision.
“It kills the joy of the game a little bit,” he said. “So we have to find a way that we don’t destroy the joy of the game and get the right outcomes in relation to what happened.”