The VAR; which means Video Assistant Referee technology was used for the first time in the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, although it was initiated into live football matches in 2016. The VAR technology is an IT tool used in football matches, which helps referees to make more correct refereeing decisions. This technology is manned by a video assistant referee, who is a qualified football assistant referee who reviews decisions made by the head referee (in the thick of action) with the use of video footage and a headset for communication with the head referee.
Even before the end of the first round of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 came to the end, the Video Assistant Referee technology system has been used to validate and annul many goals, penalty decisions, and direct red card incidents. This new football technology system has ensured fairer play and more correct decisions from the referees, although at some cost.
When is Video Assistant Referee (VAR) Technology Used?
The following are the different scenarios that the VAR technology could be used to make correct referring decisions in a football match:
- Goals:The Video Assistant Referee VAR technology will assist the referee to determine whether there was an infringement that means a goal should not be awarded. As the ball has crossed the line, play is interrupted so there is no direct impact on the game.
- Penalty decisionsThe Video Assistant Referee VAR technology will ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the award or non-award of a penalty kick.
- Direct red card incidentsThe Video Assistant Referee VAR technology will ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with sending off or not sending off a player.
- Mistaken identityShould the referee caution or send off the wrong player, or is unsure which player should be sanctioned, the Video Assistant Referee VAR technology is called to work. It will assist the referee to see who is the correct play that deserves to be sanctioned so that the correct player can be disciplined.
How the Video Assistant Referee System Works?
Step 1: An Incident occurs
The referee informs the VAR, or the VAR recommends to the referee that a decision/incident should be reviewed.
Step 2: Review and advice by the VAR
The video footage is reviewed by the VAR, who advises the referee via headset what the video shows.
Step 3: Decision or action is taken
The referee decides to review the video footage on the side of the field of play before taking the appropriate action/decision, or the referee accepts the information from the VAR and takes the appropriate action/decision.
Benefits of Video Assistant Referee System
One major benefits of the Video Assistant Referee technology is that it helps the referee the head and assistant referees to review actions and:
- Helps to determine whether a goal is genuine (should be allowed to stand) or not.
- Helps to determine whether a player is offside or not.
- Helps to determine whether a player deserves a card for an infringement and what kind of card it should be.
- Helps to determine whether an infringe in the eighteen yard box calls for a penalty or not.
- Helps to determine which player is guilty of an offense on the pitch where it becomes unclear to the center referee.
Fears and Criticisms of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) Technology
Some of the fears and criticisms against VAR is that it creates confusion.For instance, Zinedine Zidane who was the Real Madrid coach, called the system a source of confusion during its first introduction to international football club final matches, in Japan 2016.
Moreover, it could lead to misjudgment when the VAR malfunctions technically or their is something that obstructed the video camera. For instance, when a flag mistakenly obscures the VAR camera and makes the video unclear, the video evidence would be affected.
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The VAR technology as an innovative IT tool has been used in football matches, which helps referees to make more correct refereeing decisions. As much as the Video Assistant Referee system has been used to validate and annul many goals, penalty decisions, and direct red card incidents, it has caused so much pain and confusion on and off the field of play. I hope everyone will keep learning and adapting to this technology because, it has come to stay in FIFA organized Football competitions. Do leave a comment in the box below.