“What’s taking so long?” – Virgil van Dijk’s damning assessment of English refs

Virgil van Dijk asked the question we were all thinking after the Netherlands were denied a goal in their clash against France, with the Premier League referees taking centre stage for all the wrong reasons.

It came as no surprise that the first farce involving VAR in Euro 2024 came when English referees were at the helm, with a decision over Xavi Simons’ goal taking an age.

Denzel Dumfries was stood in an offside position at the time of the strike and the linesman put his flag up, leaving Stuart Attwell to judge the decision as lead VAR.

It was a subjective call but took nearly three minutes, well over the average in the tournament so far, and an indication of how Premier League referees are lacking compared to others.

The goal did not stand, but during the decision-making process, Van Dijk was visibly frustrated with the delay and he made that known to ESPN on Sunday.

“I kept asking questions. ‘What’s taking so long?’ especially,” Van Dijk recalled.

“In all the matches I’ve watched, everything has been happening quite quickly so far. That’s why I asked that a few times in a row.”

Something we have to look forward to again in the Premier League next season – lucky us!

The Netherlands captain can do little about the decision now and is seeking to move on ahead of the final group game against Austria on Tuesday.

He added: “I have nothing more to say about it. There has been enough talk about it. Unfortunately, it didn’t count and we have to move on.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 2, 2022: Referee Stuart Atwell during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While Van Dijk must move on, we do not necessarily have to as his comments shine a light on the shortcomings of the officials we have in the Premier League.

Semi-automated offside is arriving next season and while that should speed up decisions, there will still be concerns if that will be the case considering all we know and have experienced.

There is growing disillusionment with technology in the game, but it is here to stay after Premier League clubs voted 19-1 to keep VAR, though they insisted on improvements.

If and when we see those improvements remains to be seen, but this Euro performance did not instil much belief.

And let’s spare a thought for Van Dijk, who had to experience what he did all season with Liverpool with his country, just when he thought he got away from them!