VAR technology adopted for World Cup 2018

Stamford Bridge

Hardly is there a World Cup fan twho does not know about video assistant referees (VAR). A month before the beginning of World Cup 2018, lawmakers in Zurich voted on the adoption of VAR technology for the world’s most grandiose football event.

FA’s Martin Glenn commented that there are various benefits of VAR technology and it should be adopted in the Premier League as well. In Glenn’s opinion, the fact that Premier League has decided to pass on VAR for now does not mean an ultimate rejection of the technology, but a case of giving it more time.

VAR was approved for use in the World Cup in Russia and was accepted by the International Football Association Board after a two-year worldwide trial which included 972 matches in over 20 leagues. Despite being criticised as an imperfect technology, four FIFA representatives from each of the home nations agreed to use the VAR technology in Russia.

Gianni Infantino, FIFA’s president hailed the day as a ‘historic step towards greater fairness in football’. But was it a great step indeed, or does VAR prove that we have gone too far?

  • VAR technology explained

According to super betting sites, VAR technology is employed for use in all 64 matches of World Cup 2018. The job of VAR teams is to oversee all fixtures, checking for clear and obvious mistakes corresponding to match-changing situations. What is more, VAR teams interfere if and only if a clear and obvious mistake has been made on part of the referee.

All referees who take part in Russia’s World Cup have received strict instructions on when to accept information from VAR teams and when to review video footage of a given situation of the field before making a final decision. Essentially, referees have to take into account VAR teams’ advice for on-field reviews, penalty decisions, as well as all direct red card incidents.

The VAR team consists of video assistant referee (VAR) as well as his three assistants of the VAR team (AVAR1, AVAR2, and AVAR3). All members of the VAR team are top FIFA match officials. By the way, FIFA has selected 13 referees to act as members of the VAR team for the World Cup in Russia. All members of the VAR team have been chosen in accordance with their experience as Video Match Officials in their corresponding National Associations and Confederation competitions.

Both fans and players are informed each time VAR technology is employed in a match. What is more, there are official gestures the referee uses when communicating with the VAR team, as well as when they wish to review a situation using VAR.

  • Have we gone too far

Gianni Infantino praised VAR technology, but a substantial number of players and football fans are not so pleased with the technology. According to some, VAR is the proof that football has become too digital.

Football has been steadily shifting towards digitalisation for many years now. Be it TV coverage, ticketing, or the capacity for teams to analyse performance, digitalisation is the basis of it all.

Nowadays, there are enormous amounts of data available on each football team, as well as on each team member. Coaches collect such data in order to be able to make a personalised feedback and organise a strategy for an upcoming match. In addition, using data, managers are able to make more tactical decisions based on live information such as how far a player has run, etc. Thanks to digitalisation, football has evolved from a hobby into an outstandingly profitable industry worth more than $1.5 trillion worldwide.

Sports have gone digital indeed – today we even have the $400-million-worth eSports industry, which shows how digitalised sports have become.  

But VAR is different. For most people, VAR is a step too far, making football feel unnatural. If you have watched most World Cup 2018 matches, then you certainly know what slow-down does the use of VAR cause.

There is more – do you not think that having to wait for VAR to confirm before celebrating a goal is too odd to bear? And do not get us started with all VAR reviews the referees have made during World Cup 2018, and the amount of time referees need to perform VAR reviews. What is more, VAR is never ultimately correct – even VAR teams can misjudge a situation.

Also, it is not compulsory for referees to communicate with VAR each time there is a difficult situation on the pitch. On top of all, referees need not VAR review all contentious decisions – take, for example, Portugal and Mexico’s match during Russia’s World Cup.

To some, VAR is diminishing the role of referees on the pitch. It might be true that referees can not make the right decision all the time, but the VAR system is not perfect, either. In addition, players have complained of VAR, claiming referees are overusing the technology and making too much mistakes.