The Controversies of the Video Assistant Referees (VARs)

The world of football has once again being sent into another huge debate as to the effectiveness of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) as many have shown concerns with it in the ongoing FIFA Confederations Cup. With 3 games down the line in the ongoing FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, the Video Assistant Referee is in the headlines and the main news item in Russia. On Sunday 18 June 2017 in the game involving Portugal and Mexico, the video assistant referee disallowed a goal scored by Pepe in the 21st minute. Later the same evening in another game between Chile and Argentina, saw the video assistant referee disallowing a goal from Eduardo Vargas and on a different occasion also allowing a disallowed goal by Eduardo Vargas. The video assistant referee is making the headlines in the confederations taking into consideration how late it calls are made.The Controversies of the Video Assistant Referees (VARs)

FIFA has being under immense pressure to perfect the decisions of its referees​ due to some destiny changing errors made at the international level. Few are those who will forget the hand of God by Maradona, Lampard’s strike against Germany, Suarez’s hand ball against Ghana and but a few at the World Cup. Controversial goals and offsides was also of a grave concern to FIFA.

FIFA under immense pressure to perfect the game of football took a cue from the game of basketball in how officials ​review major decisions. FIFA agreed and thought it wise to replicate what happens in basketball where officials​ review decisions in association football were major decisions will also be reviewed for perfection.

In a football game we have four referees, center referee, two assistant referees and a fourth official. Each of these officials have their roles on the pitch same as the video assistant referee.

 The main roles and duties of the video assistant referee is as explained below.

  • Goals:The role of the Video Assistant Referee is to assist the referee to determine whether there was an infringement that means a goal should not be awarded. As the ball has crossed the line, the play has already been interrupted so that there is no direct impact on the game.
  • Penalty Decision:The role of the Video Assistant Referee is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the award or non award of a penalty.
  • Red Card Incidents:The role of the Video Assistant Referee is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the sending off of a player.
  • Mistaken Identity: If the referee cautions or send off the wrong player, or is unsure which player should be sanctioned, the video assistant referee will inform the referee so that the correct player can be disciplined.

Many are those who asks how the video assistant referee works. This is how decision making with the video assistant referee and the referee is made.

                 Step 1
The referee informs the Video Assistant Referee or the Video Assistant Referee recommends to the referee that a decision/incident should be reviewed.

                    Step 2
The video footage is reviewed by the Video Assistant Referee who advise the referee via headset with what the video shows.

                     Step 3
The referee decides to review the video footage at the side of the video footage at the side of the pitch before taking the appreciate action/decision.

                   Or
The referee accepts the information from the Video Assistant Referee and takes the appreciate action/decision.

The video assistant referee after testing in FIFA youth championships, the world football organizing body decided to take a huge step with the VAR by testing it in the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. The use of the VRA at its first major tournament have swayed divided opinions in world of football.

Legends, pundits and former referees have commented their displeasure with how slow the video assistant referee makes its decision and the time that it wastes during the review. Some school of thought also suggests ​that, the controversies also contributes ​to interesting nature of the beautiful old game.  Another unfortunate event is when players finish their celebration of a goal only to be told that the video assistant referee has disallowed it and very soon every goal scored would have to be confirmed by the VAR before celebration.

There is a saying that perfection with speed and others prefer perfection before speed but perfection and speed must run coherently​. The delays that it takes for the VAR to make its decision is very worrying. The video assistant referee is not the long term solution of for perfecting decisions of referees​. The VAR do not deliver on perfection with speed and makes football very boring as seen in the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. If the video assistant referee will succeed, it needs to work on perfection with speed and it’s decisions​ must come swiftly and timely without delays.