The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has been the biggest superstar of World Cup 2018. Scoring is up, players and fans have no idea what’s going on, and drawing a circle with your hands is the new signal for instant replay. We are in a technology era and it seems obvious to use the hundreds of cameras available to assist the referee. But has the introduction of VAR had a positive or negative impact on the tournament in Russia?

“I think the new system (VAR) is good for the World Cup because there can be no mistakes in the box and for the penalties, for the free kicks it’s good – for red cards as well. I think it’s the new revolution.” – Marouane Fellaini- Belgium National Team

 PROS

  • It makes the game more exciting. More drama and goals. Nothing is worse than a 0-0 final score.
  • We are getting a higher percentage of correct decisions.
  • Terrible calls are being eliminated from games.
  • The chance referees coming to a ‘fair’ decision are higher.

CONS

  • The decision to use VAR during a game is subjective. Some plays are reviewed while others are not.
  • It still comes down to human interpretation. Watching video slow motion repeatedly doesn’t change that. The referee still could make the wrong interpretation of the replay.
  • Taking the human element out will kill the game. Soccer isn’t supposed to be perfect.
  • Too slow. The referee must wait until the ball is in a neutral zone to stop play – the game is kind of in limbo while we wait for decision. Then if replay is granted, that’s another stoppage. Then stoppage time is added to make-up. Therefore the games are longer.

CONCLUSION

We approve of VAR and think it definitely makes the tournament much more exciting. Soccer players, coaches, and referees are now held accountable for getting things wrong. Human error is minimized and scoring is up. There has only been one game that’s finished 0-0 (France vs. Denmark). We like the technology, however both referees and the VAR officials themselves don’t seem sure on how to use the technology properly.