The VAR is the video assistant referee, it reviews decisions that has been taken by the on-field referee with the use of a video footage and a headset for communication. Used in detecting offsides, penalties, goals and fouls and has been in existence for quite some time now. Is it doing more harm than good? Is it being a help or a pain in the premier league?
We can say it’s doing good and bad but let’s see what it was really designed to do. According to Football Technology, the video assistant referee does a variety of things, in taking penalty decisions, it ensures that there is no wrong in awarding or not awarding a penalty kick. It also ensures that no wrong decisions are made in conjunction to giving a red card and sending a player off or determining whether to pronounce a goal or not when the play is interrupted and there is no direct impact on the game.
On how it works, when the incident occurs, it recommends whether the decision taken by the referee be reviewed. The footage is viewed by the ref and he’s allowed to make a final and appropriate decision. The VRA was invented to clear misunderstandings between referees and players and avoid cheating in a game since many cases of wrong decisions and violence has been recorded because players are always in disagreement. Now back to what impact it has on the premier league. consider the following:
• Is it too slow? Everything has advantages and disadvantages, VAR is not an exception. It sometimes takes too much time in making decisions, a lot of things can happen within a short period of time, more goals can he scored and boost a teams confidence but if that time is wasted, it’s a loss. During a game between Manchester United and Schalke in February, the game was delayed almost three minutes. The referee was waiting to make a decision, he walked over to the screen only to find out it was not working. Technical problems? He did not watch the incident on the screen but made a decision from what he was told by those behind the VAR booth. That did not seem very impressive and professional-like.
• Did the league officials initially agree with the use or the VAR? Maybe yes, maybe no, Mike Riley who is the leagues chief referee had said that he did not want the technology to come and re-referee the game but wanted it to sincerely detect faults in the game that the referees did not notice. Others did not think so highly of the video assistant referee. Quique Sanchez described it to be “very subjective”. Liverpool defender Andy Robertson suggested that if the technology was not perfect for the league, they should not be using it.
• Will it render most referees jobless? In recent times, technology has taken over, from robots serving I’m restaurants to VAR’s making decisions in place on-field refs. It’s helping them but is it taking their job?Peter Walton disagreed when he said “such intervention wouldn’t belittle the referee, they don’t always have the best view and I would have welcomed that help
as a referee”.
• It has failed to provide accurate information in the premier league, hasn’t it? Yes, it had failed to overturn four incorrect decisions during the first four rounds of the league matches. Two are indicated, appeal for a penalty from Manchester city for a foul on Da Silva should have been given but it was not and again the foul on West Ham striker Sebastien Haller should have resulted in a penalty. Both incidents occurred in August. Wolves, Aston Villa and Burnley all had goals ruled out by the VAR. Was it fair enough? According to News 18, a day later, a similar challenge from man U’s Lindelof on Liverpool foreword Divock went unpunished before Marcus Rashford opened the scoring at Old Trafford which had Liverpool boss questioning whether the on-field officials would have made a different decision without the VAR.
It can be said to be doing both harm and good, the refs can make better decisions now, if not quickly and there is fair play. But if the fans and players can also be allowed to watch the actual footage and if changes are made to its operations, it can do better.