VARious Points of View

Our writers tackle the arguments for and against the use of VAR technology in football

Rebecca Johnson
12th February 2018
Does VAR help or hinder the game? Image: Wikimedia Commons

Yes- Rebecca Johnson

The Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) system was first used in the United Kingdom for the international friendly between England and Germany in November. Since then, after being used in the English FA Cup and Carabao Cup, VAR is already a hot topic of debate amongst English football fans. In Leicester's game against Fleetwood in January, Kelechi Iheanacho was awarded a goal using VAR, which had previously been ruled offside. However just twenty-four hours later, VAR was misused to wrongly issue Chelsea player, Willian, a yellow card for diving against Norwich.

The pace of the game being broken is a small sacrifice for a potentially game changing incident to be reviewed

Already VAR is causing controversy not just in the UK, but abroad with players such as Gianlugi Buffon and Sami Khedira speaking against the use of VAR. In England, pundits such as Alan Shearer have described the system as "shambolic". Bearing in mind the system has only been used a handful of times since November, it feels as though people are quick to criticise the system. VAR needs time to mature in football, as it is still a relatively new concept in international football, not just to the UK, it takes time for officials, players and coaching staff to adjust and learn how the new system works. Just because there have been a couple of mishaps operating the new system does not mean that VAR should not be used any further.

Furthermore, although argued to slow the game down, review systems have shown a success in other sports such as cricket and rugby, so it is only right for football to follow fashion and employ a similar review system. The pace of the game being temporarily broken is a small sacrifice for a potentially game changing incident to be reviewed. VAR should continued to be trialled in the UK to amend any potential flaws the system currently has, it is far too early to dismiss the system entirely.


No- Callum O'Callaghan

I am not completely against VAR but if it continues to move forward as it is now, it will be extremely detrimental to the sport.

Firstly, it disrupts the flow of the game. A prime example was the 4th round FA cup game between Liverpool and West Brom. Jon Moss even left the field to check a video reply himself causing major disruption.

The concept of VAR is much more successful in both codes of rugby partially down to the fact that the clock can be stopped so no time is wasted whereas it appears to be wasting a lot of time currently in football.

The success of the technology in rugby is also owed to the fact that there is clear indication when the video referee is going to be used. In the case of rugby union, we are even able to hear the communication between the video ref and on-field ref. The lack of hand signals to indicate whether VAR is being used (unless the decision is changed) in football leaves people stood about cluelessly waiting for information regarding the decision.

Jon Moss even left the field to check a video reply himself causing major disruption

Another point to consider is that decisions are still opinion based. Referee’s call what they see and this could be different from one referee to another. This disagreement could occur in the same game between the on field and the video refs.

Ultimately, the sport needs to go all in or nothing. Although some outlines have been given as to when VAR can be used and when it can’t, they are vague and just seem to complicate things further. This leaves people disgruntled when potentially big decisions are passed over because VAR can’t be used in that specific situation.  Football is, should be and always will be a sport that evokes strong opinions and disagreements.

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