Sunday 4th August 2019

Daniel Ennis – UCFB (Wembley) student

The topic on whether it’s a good idea that VAR (video assistant referee) is being implemented into English football is most certainly evoking a split opinion in the present moment.

VAR is a team of impartial officials in a neutral studio placed somewhere in the country away from the game in chosen and their job is to aid the referee by mulling over decisions and exhausting all angles on a television screen before reporting back to the in-game referee. In some scenarios, the team of video assistants find it so close to reach a conclusion or they are split, there is an on-pitch screen where unaccompanied, the ref looks over the incident and makes the last call. VAR is used for incidents regarding whether there was an infringement in the build up to a goal, for penalty decisions and incidents when a red card is drawn.

VAR has already been implemented on the world stage when it was first introduced in the 2018 World Cup. There is one incident that comes to mind when identifying the effect of VAR in football was in this year’s champions league quarter final 2nd leg between Man City vs Spurs. Raheem Sterling thought he had booked his side into the semi final in dramatic fashion scoring a last-minute goal and the home fans were sent into jubilation, only to be on their knees in despair moments later in what will become an iconic footballing moment for years to come. Many will argue that Man city should feel hard done by based on the VAR ruling, as every year previous the goal would have stood. However, is it not right and just that the correct outcome has been made regardless of the minuscule margins?

You just have to look at other major sports to realise the benefits of having VAR. England’s successes in the cricket is a prime example of how video assistance can work in Sports without marring the entertainment value. When Jos Butler grasped the ball and dived towards the wickets, it seemed certain for him and the rest of the England team that the super over was won, yet the umpires and those in the crowd and at home waited anxiously for the decision to be finalised so they could rejoice.

The criticism centred around VAR being introduced into Football is that it firstly, does not fit into the fast-paced tempo of contemporary football. Secondly, the fans present at the game have no idea why the match has been stopped and are in the dark whilst the decision is being reviewed.

However, as of this year the premier league has created graphics to be displayed on giant screens to explain any VAR-related delay to a match, and any overturned decision. Additionally, if the VAR believes there is a definite video clip which helps explain an overturned decision, that too will be broadcasted on a big screen. This then enables video assistance to aid the referee when making potential season defining decisions, whilst also making sure every paying fan is being informed on the decision in question.

Image: REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo