• Sam Collins

CONTRO-VAR-SY: IS TECHNOLOGY KILLING THE GAME?


There are many debates in football that are constantly discussed in great detail, with different views and ideas, however the one that is currently the most prominent would have to be the Video Assistant Referee.


With multiple controversial decisions occurring seemingly every weekend now, does VAR do more bad than it does good?


This Premier League season we have already seen a total of 29 penalties awarded.


With teams having only played a total of five games this year this is a simply shocking statistic.


If the rate were to continue until the end of the season as it currently is, we would end up with a total in excess of 200 penalties.


On top of this the other main controversy surrounding VAR has come from the very tight offside calls and the handball ruling.


When looking at a recent example in the Everton vs Liverpool fixture last weekend the issues with VAR were demonstrated.


After scoring what looked to be an injury-time winner from Jordan Henderson for the away side, Sadio Mane was called offside.


The Senegalese international looked perfectly level with the Everton defence but was judged to be off.


This ludicrous call saw the match end in a 2-2 draw, costing Liverpool 2 points.


Another example, different to what has previously been mentioned, can be taken from Jordan Pickford’s horror tackle on Virgil Van Dijk.


Despite it looking like a certain red card, VAR made the decision that because Van Dijk was just offside in the buildup that the tackle was discredited.


Pickford was not sent off, and this sparked even further debates about the problems of VAR.


Clearly if VAR is to work in the Premier League there are changes that have to be made.


There are multiple examples of decisions that just do not seem correct.


Of course, it is always going to be difficult to please everyone, as the majority of fans will have a bias to their own team and that the decision should have gone their way.


However, VAR has not helped itself in anyway at all since it was introduced.


Here are some of the changes that I believe need to be made to improve it and reduce the anger around decisions.


Firstly, I think it is very important that all the fans in the ground at the time are able to see what is happening when a VAR call is taking place.


This needs to be put on the big screens, because it causes to much confusion in the ground, with fans not knowing why their team may have conceded a penalty, or had a goal ruled out.


Additionally, the reason that VAR was introduced was to cut out human error and it evidently has not done that.


The people who make the calls at Stockley Park seem to have the exact same problem as the referee can do on the pitch.


Before the introduction of VAR, fans were more understanding, sort of, of mistakes that were made.


But as VAR was bought in directly to cut out these errors it has to be questioned whether it has actually had any positive benefit on the sport.


This really begs the question if we actually need VAR and if we were better off before.


Another one of the issues that VAR has is the amount of time it can take for a decision to be made.


Again, this becomes an issue for the fans inside the ground.


When sitting waiting for the decision to be made, there is so much uncertainty, and the fans don’t know what is going to happen.


This obviously leads to a lot of frustration and anger.


There is an argument, however, to suggest that it isn’t just VAR itself that is at fault, it’s the laws of the game that are causing the problems.


With the offside rule being so tight, and the handball rules changing, it could be stated that VAR is just executing what it is being told to do.


Despite this point though, the blame cannot be pinned on just this, VAR has had too many errors itself.


Personally, I think VAR could work, because when we observe other sports such as rugby, the issues are never as common or as big.


When contrasted to football, there are obviously some big differences in rugby, but the principles are the same.


Overall, VAR has a long way to go in order to become successful in football.


You are never going to please every football fan out there, but it is important that the majority are agreeing with the decision rather than the other way round.