The 2018 FIFA World Cup is the first major soccer tournament to use the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). So far VAR really has made some big changes throughout the tournament. There are many ways to describe VAR, but, long story short, it’s a state-of-the-art piece of video technology that assists the officials. Some are fine with the new advancement while others love it.
What good does VAR do?
For one, it provides much-needed assistance to the officials on the pitch. Sometimes a foul or off-side happens so quickly that the referee may miss it or perhaps from where he’s standing it doesn’t look like a violation.
It’s all about making confirmations to very important decisions and getting them right. It allows officials to carefully review their decision and if necessary they can reverse their original decision. VAR can help make the officials’ job much easier. The additional help is truly desperately needed. The most important thing is that VAR is objective, meaning it shows exactly what went down.
France’s Antoine Griezmann was the first ever to be awarded a penalty kick via VAR after he was fouled by an Australian defender. The referee originally waved it off, but then changed his mind and carefully reviewed and reversed his decision. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s foul against an Iranian player was reviewed as well. He was controversially awarded a yellow when the foul was worthy of a red. But in that case, VAR is not to blame as the referee made his own decision afterward.
The bottom line is the VAR provides much-needed assistance but in the end, the referee makes the official decision.
What’s the harm VAR can do?
Perhaps it can cause an uproar among supporters of a certain team when the ruling is not in their favor. For example, if a player is originally awarded a penalty, but VAR shows that it’s not a penalty and the decision is reverses, that is when the chaos begins to kick in. But then again, the referee’s final decision isn’t the VAR’s fault.
Many say VAR is definitely not a good substitution for good officiating. Well, honestly it can’t be. Obviously, it’s very rare that we see perfect officiating, but VAR was not designed to make officiating perfect. It’s previously been criticized as “comical and embarrassing“. The criticism of VAR has gone as far as saying that it’s ruined the sport of soccer.
Overall, the negativity is simply just an uproar of chaos from supporters. It may be safe to say that we’re just simply not used to it yet and it will be years before many are at piece with the new advancement.
VAR is here to stay and it is hard to understand why but let’s face it; VAR helps make the right decisions. It could be the end of controversial handballs, dirty plays, and other things that go on without being reviewed and dealt with.
VAR is going to help maintain some order on the pitch. Understanding it’s full nature is going to take time, but it is making a strong change in the sport. A change for the better.