Is VAR Succeeding in World Football?


Over the last few years, football has been revolutionized by the introduction of video assistant referee technology. While the concept has been developed to aid on-field officials in making the correct decisions, the development has undoubtedly divided opinion among the sport’s spectators. While there’s still a sense of optimism that, in time, the technology can positively impact every facet of the game, the current set of rules which surround its application are seemingly generating further confusion than before it was introduced.

As a result, we’re going to consider whether VAR is proving to be a success within the football world.

Finding the Balance Between Accuracy and Excitement

At the 2018 FIFA World Cup, 335 incidents were checked during the group stages, with the video technology ensuring a correct decision rate of 99.3 percent. However, despite signs in the early stages of its implementation that accuracy was almost guaranteed, Mike Riley, the Premier League referees’ chief, declared in November 2019 that the technology had incorrectly overturned four decisions in just a matter of weeks. In spite of errors, the Professional Game Match Officials Board believes correct calls are up by nine percent on last season with the help of VAR, according to the Independent.

Crucially, and arguably, the most problematic battle that faces VAR relates to the mechanics of its review system and the effect that’s having on viewers. Outside of the Premier League, this has also been an issue in the Bundesliga, La Liga, and Serie A. In Germany. Furthermore, in Italy’s top-flight divisions, both leagues have also shown signs of needing to speed up the decision-making process, with players and spectators believing that technology is taking the passion out of the game.

Influencing Player and Spectator Participation

Generally, technology has significantly altered the outlook of both football and tennis at the top level. Before the involvement of VAR, the benefit of the doubt was often granted to attackers in tight, offensive situations, but this has now changed, with video technology seeking precision in every scenario. In regard to interacting with the newly-implemented video software, the integration of Hawk-Eye in tennis is limited to three challenges per set for each player, which is easing the level of responsibility on the court-side official. Additionally, it is also heightening the excitement levels among spectators as they are now able to follow every contentious action in detail due to the evolving use of video technology.

Moreover, the same can be said within the iGaming industry, with such technology changing participant and spectator experiences. In tabletop card games, video tools have long been used to revolutionise the traditional table titles and enhance the involvement of spectators. Introduced back in 1999, hole cams, which are small cameras embedded under the poker table, allow commentators and television viewers to see the cards in a poker player’s hand after they’ve been dealt. While this played a pivotal role in growing the use of technology within casino-based games, many contemporary platforms have now evolved card games from a player participation standpoint, with the classic game blackjack now being available in live form. This variant utilises a number of different HD camera angles to display the finest details in seeking to create an immersive gaming experience, illustrating that the entertainment value of observation of a game in any spectator sport, is intrinsic to the reception of new, possibly revolutionising, technology.

The Need for Clarity

As demonstrated, video technology can undoubtedly work across a wide array of different sectors within modern-day society, despite its undeniable shortcomings in football. Generally, VAR is making the game slower, however, that’s only happening at crucial moments, but developing a system that is both fast and accurate (as well as entertaining) will, if it’s even feasible, take a long time to produce.