The Role of VAR in Football
In almost all soccer competitions, there are three officials on the field, there is the main referee and 2 assistant referees who are the linesman/lines woman.
The main referee oversees and enforces discipline regarding everything happening inside the pitch. The linesman or lineswoman help detect offsides and other foul play in case they were closer to the incident than the main referee.
At higher levels of football competitions such as Bundesliga, there is even a fourth referee which is the referee that handles the substitutions, stoppage time and maintaining the contact between the match officials and outside parties.
Regardless of the presence of four different referees, they still might miss some things because of the fas-paced nature of the game. Thus, a VAR (Video Assistant Referee) was created and people are starting to accept that. The role of Var in Football is to assist the other referees on the pitch by viewing any play on multiple screens from multiple angles
This controversial technology has come into play in many instances. Below Live Koora gets into the history of VAR and its evolution.
How Did VAR in Football Start?
With the advancement of technology, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) wanted to implement a new system that can be a backup for field referees in case of any mistakes to lessen some of football controversies when it comes to referee decisions.
Let’s say the field referees and right 95% of the time, the role of Var in football is to account for these 5% where referees get it wrong.
As part of the Refereeing 2.0 initiative, KNVB (Royal Dutch Football Association) implemented VAR in Football just for the sake of testing in the 2023/13 Eredivisie season.
In 2014, KNVB submitted a petition to IFAB for VAR in Football to be used in other leagues and competitions, and IFAB agreed to the full implementation of VAR.
The first live trial run for VAR came in a July 2016 friendly between PSV and FC Eindhoven.
The second live trial run for VAR in Football came a month later in an August 2016 match between USL sides New York Red Bulls II and Orlando City B. VAR was used twice in the match.
How Does VAR in Football Work?
VAR is like an instant replay of the incident that had happened.
VAR in Football is operated by an AVAR (assistant video assistant referee). The role of AVAR is to carefully watch over VAR and keep record of the incidents that need revision and reports the outcomes of VAR Review to the commentators and other relevant staff.
VAR in Football monitors every decision made by a referee that can be reviewed. If the AVAR believes something was missed or an incorrect decision was made, he or she will communicate that to the head referee through their earpiece.
After an error has been identified and play has been stopped, there are three possible ways the head referee can handle it.
- Some incidents do not require a review like an offside or handball or the referee can simply reverse the ruling
- Incidents that require a subjective ruling like discipline or a foul may require the head referee to take another look at them
- The head referee could just ignore the ruling of the VAR if he or she deems it incorrect or too severe.
The Dos and Don’ts of VAR in Football
There are four broad categories where VAR is used to review a play. While it is an integral part of the game, it is important to remember that VAR is only an assistant referee. That means any decision made off of the field via VAR can be trumped by the head referee at any given time.
What VAR in Football Does Review
VAR in Football is allowed to review four types of decisions:
- Goal decisions: Some goals are considered controversial and are subject to objection from the opposing team, and sometimes they are right. In this case, the head referee can double-check the VAR to rule out whether the goal is true or not. Sometimes it is an offside goal, and other times the players commit a foul to score. Other times the ball may have crossed the line and went into the net without the main referee seeing it. In all these case, the help of VAR in Football is important.
- Penalty decisions: penalties are crucial as they are almost a guaranteed goal and sometimes the head referee can’t clearly see whether the player committed a foul or the other player was faking it and sometimes the referee needs to double-check whether the foul was indeed committed inside the penalty box or not.
- Direct red card decisions:Whether it is a foul or an issue of discipline, a red card is a harsh thing to do, which is why it is always good for the head referee to double-check his or her decision by seeking the assistance of VAR in Football .
- Mistaken identity decisions: When conflict arises on the pitch and chaos is all over, the referee cannot always punish the right players, which is why VAR helps him or her confirm who needs discipline.
What VAR in Football Does Not Review
Anything that falls outside the above four listed instances is not reviewable by VAR in Football. These decisions include but are not restricted to first and second-yellow card decisions (offences where a player would receive their first or second yellow card of the match), corner kicks (whether the ball went past the touchline), and handballs (whether the ball touches a player’s arm or hand in an illegal manner). Those judgments fall to the discretion of the on-field referees.
VAR in Football Conclusion
VAR has made soccer a much cleaner game than it was before its implementation. According to FIFA, VAR in Football made the correct call 99.3% of the time during the 2018 World Cup, while the referees themselves made the correct call 95% of the time. However, the system is not perfect and still gets some calls wrong.
There has been a lot of criticism of VAR in Football, but at the end of the day, one must remember that the main referee makes all the decision regardless of what the VAR review says.