The use of technology has changed football. But VAR has made football better. Find out how.

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The use of technology in football became necessary due to the growth of the modern game. Players’ movement, speed of play, and the general mode of playing the sport in recent times mean that center referees can’t keep up with the game anymore. 

The call for video assistant referees (VAR) began due to errors made by referees during games. Therefore, many fans consider the possible impact of the technology when games’ prediction for today is made. A similar thing happens when bettors want to place their bets. Today’s author is Mightytips’ Kate Richardson, sports analyst, and betting expert.

History of VAR 

The Refereeing 2.0 project conceived the technology in 2011 under the direction of the Royal Netherlands Football Association. VAR underwent mock trials during the 2012/2013 season of the Dutch Eredivisie, the first division football league in the country. A year later, the KNVB wrote a petition to the international football association board to change the laws of football to accommodate the technology for extensive trials. The IFAB approved trials in 2016 during its general meeting. 

However, the former president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, criticized the proposal. But it got a warm reception from the new president, Gianni Infantino. The 2016 friendly match between PSV and FC Eindhoven gave the technology its first live trial in the Dutch league. The second live trial came a month later in Major League Soccer. The game was between two Major League Soccer reserve teams.

The first league to use a VAR system in the top flight professional club completion was the A-League in Australia. Video reviews were seen for the first time in a friendly game between France and Italy. It was in a football match between Melbourne City and Adelaide United. However, the technology did not intervene in the game.

Intervention from the VAR was seen for the first time on April 8 when Wellington Phoenix played Sydney FC. VAR recognized an illegal handball in the penalty box during the game and rightly awarded it to Sydney FC. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. Fans of soccer in the United States saw the intervention of the VAR for the first time when Philadelphia Union played FC Dallas in 2017. In addition, FIFA allowed VAR for the first time during the defunct Confederations Cup in June.

VAR made its English Premier League debut in the 2019/20 season after a unanimous vote by all 20-teams in the league. UEFA approved its use in the Champions League in 2018 to be used in the knockout stages of the UEFA competitions. All FIFA and UEFA competitions and major leagues in Europe, South America, and Asia use the technology.

VAR Procedure 

The number of decisions taken by the VAR is limited to four categories. Therefore, only four areas of a football match can be reviewed by the technology.

  • Goal/no goal

When the attacking team commits a foul in the buildup to a goal, such as a ball out of play, the ball entering the goal, offside, handball, offenses, and encroachment during penalty kicks, all these instances can determine if a goal would stand or canceled after a review by the VAR.

  • Direct red card

Denying an obvious goal-scoring chance, serious foul play, violent conduct ( biting, spitting, using offensive/insulting/abusive language or gestures. Every straight red card is under review. 

  • Penalty/no penalty 

Attacking team commits an offense, ball out of play, offense position, incorrect penalty decision, offense not penalized. All these conditions determine if a penalty will be awarded to the attacking team or not.

  • Mistaken identity 

Sometimes because of the pressure on the center referee and the game’s speed, they can award a card to the wrong player for an incident. VAR is allowed to review the decision to ensure the right person gets a red/yellow card depending on the severity of their actions.

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Check

The VAR team watches the game from the video operation room. They perform automatic checks on on-field referee decisions, which fall under the four categories discussed above. If any mistake is observed during checks, a communication line is sent to the center referee. 

The line of communication is called a silent check and requires no extra action. Often no delay is caused to the game. But, there are times a VAR check can stop the game while the CAR crew decides to determine if a mistake has taken place or not.

When this happens, the referee pauses the game while listening to the findings of the CAR crew. Sometimes, they may recommend that the ref takes a look for himself. If the VARobservese a clear mistake, there are three likely scenarios.

  • The decision is overturned on the suggestion of VAR.
  • The VAR crew recommends On-field review (OFR) to the center referee.
  • The referee can choose to ignore the suggestions of the VAR crew. 

Technical terms

The introduction of VAR exposed fans to some technical terms. We shall explain some of these terms below.

  • Check 

It is a process in which the VAR automatically inspects all reviewable decisions. The process determines if a decision will stand or will be changed. For instance, an offside red card is reviewed and approved or declined during the check process by the VAR crew.

  • OFFER

This stands for the On-field review – a review process that happens following suggestions by the VAR. The process helps clear any obvious mistake made by the referee.

  • Replay Operator (RO)

The non-referee official helps video officials manage the broadcast and look for the best angles to enable the right decision to be taken.

  • Assistant VAR (AVAR)

This term describes the official who assists the VAR by watching a live game on the pitch while the VAR checks or reviews a decision.

Conclusion 

VAR is one of the best innovations made in football. Alongside goal-line technology, VAR has transformed the game by reducing the human margin for error. Other sports have also incorporated technology into their gameplay. In hockey, officials use hawk-eye technology to follow the movement of the ball. This technology is used in hockey leagues worldwide. You can find more information about hockey on this page. Football games have become easier for referees to oversee since the inclusion of the VAR in the sport.

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