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Updated: Jan 21, 2020

Video Assistant Referee has become a reality in association football as it’s presence has grown from a talked about addition to the game to being involved in most of the worlds biggest competitions. Video Assistant Referee and known widespread as VAR in its acronym form is essentially what it stands for, it’s a game day official that reviews decisions made by the head referee by using video replay footage and a headset for back and forth communication to help make accurate calls within games. Since it’s inclusion into big matches and competitions it’s been followed with criticism and controversy. Some believing it’s bringing more confusion and conflict with on and off pitch decisions instead of clarity and fairness. VAR main use is to find and review blatant errors in the game and missed calls but is football the right sport to have this kind of feature?

 Yes, in football there’s been calls made and decisions that have been left with debate due to the on field lack of review but the only time there has been criticism is if your club got on the wrong side of the call but at times it’s been outright poor. Now it seems most individuals whose team is on the right side or wrong side of calls, aren’t enjoying the use of VAR. This is because it’s taking the emotion out of the game. In other sports such as Gridiron Football VAR hasn’t been an issue for multiple reasons. NFL and CFL football consists of an already stop and go fluidity in the sport that doesn’t make it seem much of an interruption but in soccer it has been a clear interruption to the game as seen in games with long reviewing processes that seem to just be long and repetitive. Players who score are becoming reluctant to celebrate as goals left and right are being taken for review and taken back, while fans are reacting alike. Also an issue that has been brought up by pundits and fans is how accurate is VAR and how fair is it. Is every call being made fair to both sides? Is it adding to confusion and debate? Is everyone running VAR qualified? 

Previously calls would be made and that was it while now it’s constant questions and looks of players and coaches all giving blank and lost expressions. After multiple big games facing scrutiny due to this addition to the officiating of the game, to decrease the level of confusion suggestions have been brought up. One that’s been repeatedly brought to my attention was simply adding VAR to cup competitions where the margin of error is so slim as opposed to league fixtures. That could be a good solution giving the head organizations time to trial VAR and make revisions that these incidents don’t continue. With two of the last three matches between Spurs and Man City being plagued with converstroverstial debate more about VAR then the actual match itself it’s time that maybe there’s some change. 

 Even without these big game stories there’s also a noticeable difference in watching games, especially from the premier league as there’s been ongoing stops throughout games that seem to be disruptive rather than helpful. Whatever it is to come within the future and the sport, I think it would be better to leave it in Cup competitions and elimination matches and with improvisations eventually have it return and try it in league games but nobody knows what the future holds as it seems the sport is moving to make technological style of officiating a key part of the game. With time we will see if the debate and controversy continue or simplh we just get use to the change of the game we all love. 

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