It’s introduction to English football has been met with divided opinion, but is VAR in danger of ruining the beautiful game?

Off the back of the success of Goal-Line technology, FIFA deemed it necessary to further implement the use of technology to reduce the risk of human error occurring within football. Introducing the Video Assistant Referee or VAR.

The technology is designed to review decisions made by the referee via the use of video footage and a headset for communication. The technology can determine an array of decisions from handball to offsides. Four major football leagues from around the world have VAR already in place which include; the Bundesliga, Serie A, MLS and the Primeira Liga.

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With the most prestigious football tournament just four months away, VAR is likely to feature on the grandest stage of all at the 2018 World Cup with FIFA chief commercial officer Philippe Le Floc’h stating; “Definitley VAR will happen, it’s great to have technology in football.”

The technology is still within it’s infancy in England, with VAR first being used in an international friendly between England and Germany in November 2017. It made its competitive debut in a FA Cup tie between Brighton and Crystal Palace on the 8th January. Since then, VAR has continued to be present at FA Cup games including Leicester v Fleetwood, which saw the technology reward Kelechi Iheanacho with a goal that was originally disallowed by the match officials for offside.

At the moment it’s one of the hottest topics within football, with many pundits and commentators relentlessly discussing the issue over and over again. Fortunately, Michael Owen has not enlightened us with his opinion as that may send many fans over the edge.

VAR’s time in the spotlight is still prominent, with both sides being able to provide valid arguments for and against it’s implementation.

Those against VAR believe that they see the review process as atmosphere killing as well as slowing down the tempo of the game. These people want to see football how it’s always been played without the technological involvement. When comparing football to other sports, it’s continuous play and sheer excitement has gained admirers from all over the world, with many believing the introduction of these stoppages and reviews is going to kill the raw characteristics that so many fans fell in love with.

On the other hand, many fans believe it will allow for a fairer match and to ensure the correct call is given for those all-important decisions. With the amount of money the world of football has at it’s disposal, this is a huge talking point in that football should not be subject to human error. The governing bodies are now under more pressure than ever to ensure the right call is made on the pitch, with the introduction of VAR a huge step in the right direction.

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Most recently, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has expressed his anger over the technology after Willian was booked for diving in their FA Cup game against Norwich. “We need to improve if we want to use this new system,” Conte said. “In this game there was a situation very clear, with Willian in first-half extra time. I watched it, and this is a penalty.”

From Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ to that Frank Lampard goal in South Africa 2010, the element of human error has helped shape the game we know and love, but the debate is still there on whether the removal of future contentious decisions such as these would be a loss for the sport, which VAR aims to achieve.

Whilst Goal-Line technology can be seen as a success and an overall improvement to the game, many are still undecided on whether VAR is a technological step too far.


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