The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is the most controversial and debatable topic in world football nowadays.
It is a bag of mixed emotions for the fans as it is pleasing when the decision goes in your favour, but when it goes the other way, it can be equally frustrating. Many supporters have accepted that VAR is here to stay for the long run and therefore want its application to be improved for the upcoming seasons.
VAR was introduced to provide a safety net and assistance to referees, allowing them to make accurate decisions. It has helped to make games fair by providing correct decisions either by overturning the wrong ones or standing firm with the one given by the on-field referee, clearing any doubts on the incident. But as we know, each coin has 2 sides and let’s discuss the negative side of VAR and how it can be improved.
The fundamental problem with VAR is its inconsistency. Handball or a foul given in one match may or may not be given in another game by another referee. VAR was introduced to help overcome this problem by using the latest technology but, it has not lived up to expectations. It is so because technically, VAR is operated by a team of humans only.
The VAR is inconsistent because of human errors, camera angles, speed of the replay and decisions by field referees. There are some situations where the incident is not visible clearly or appears blurry because of the camera’s angles. Some tackles look fair in real-time but may look nasty in slow mode.
There is also a rule where the VAR can only overturn a decision based on a clear error. The decision was taken by the on-field referee may be a soft one but cannot be overturned by VAR officials as a shortcoming of this rule.
Also, there are many cases where the referee on the pitch does not visit the monitor on the pitchside whereas, referees do go there and have a look themselves. There are many stadiums where the pitchside monitor is not available for the referee.
The football associations need to double-check that all the facilities are available at every stadium for a fair decision-making process. The VAR officials should encourage the referee to go at the monitor and take a look himself. The VAR officials should have the authority to overturn field decisions if they find them inaccurate.
When the referee is discussing with the VAR team in the middle of the game regarding any incident, their conversation should be available for the fans to hear. It helps the fans to understand the reasoning behind the decision that also helps to clear any doubt in the mind of the fans afterwards. It will also help to clear out the anxiety and tension among the fans during an important phase of the game.
VAR is time-consuming and often hampers the momentum of the game. Fans believe that VAR reduces the emotional involvement of the fans with the game. The regular breaks in the game are a massive distraction for the fans who just want to see free-flowing and regular football without any interruptions.
SPIRIT OF THE GAME
Many football lovers believe that VAR is killing the spirit and excitement of the games. Fans don’t like to wait for the VAR check to confirm the goal as they want to celebrate naturally just after their team scores and not wait 1 minute to celebrate. It is also unfair for the players and fans who celebrate the goal at first just to get it cancelled later on by the referee.
Many players and managers have criticized VAR in press conferences and interviews for killing the spirit of the game. To overcome the issue, the referee should be provided with a small tablet to see the replay as quick as possible, and if he observes a matter of contention, then only the VAR should be involved.
OFFSIDE AND HANDBALL
One of the major reasons why VAR has come under so much scrutiny is because of its handball and offside decisions. The VAR has provided us with an inhuman level of accuracy in regards to offsides. It seems like the referees have forgotten the offside rules. Nonetheless, it is both an advantage as well as a disadvantage.
The technology and lines used by the VAR officials make it virtually impossible to miss an offside. On the other hand, the offside calls are made even with one toenail or a tiny hair behind the line which makes it unfair for the attackers.
The same handball incident may be given one day and not be given the other day. The handball rule is still not clear to the fans and the pundits as they are often left with their heads scratching seeing the decisions being made by the referees.
WHAT DO FANS THINK OF VAR?
VAR officials should be highly trained with the latest technological tools and be thorough and knowable with the rules of the game. The VAR team should go through proper training, and they should practice and try new laws in the lower division games first. Only this way, VAR will be able to work efficiently and effectively.