THE MAJOR PROBLEMS WITH VAR…

No matter what team you support, you have either been on the right side or the wrong side of a VAR call.

Liverpool having a goal called off even though their player was onside.

Onana body slamming a wolves player in the dying minutes of the game.

Or disregarding Bruno G elbowing players in the back of the head.

These are just a few examples from a large pool of errors that have come from poor decision making from the VAR room.

There are a few reasons we have been seeing more issues in the Premier League than any other top European League with a review assistant.

So what is VAR…We first must address what it is and the pros and cons of the addition to it in the current state of the game. The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has undeniably changed the landscape of football in the Premier League, sparking lively discussions about its impact on the game. Some have seen it as a waste of time and has changed the way games are played now. While some hail it as a step towards fairer decisions, but one thing’s for certain. VAR has major problems… 

Now before we look at all the issues, we should shed some light on the positives:

  • Increased Accuracy: Studies suggest VAR has improved decision-making accuracy, particularly in crucial calls like goals, penalties, and red cards. This can create a sense of justice and reduce post-match controversies. While some could argue about the red cards shown this season, it is moving the game in the right direction to keep players safe at the top of the list.
  • Reduced Injustice: Glaring refereeing errors have significantly decreased thanks to VAR’s ability to review decisions retrospectively, potentially salvaging matches from questionable calls. When games are heated and marginal differences can make or break a team, it is a relief for the ref to have multiple eyes to claim a proper hand ball or a foul inside the box.
  • Disciplinary Consistency: VAR promotes more consistent application of rules, particularly for borderline offside calls and penalty decisions, leading to a fairer playing field. With how fast players are moving, calling a player offside has become more and more difficult.

That being said, those are the positives, but the negatives heavily outweigh them and have had some critical errors. 

Negatives:

  • Flow Disruption: Frequent stoppages for VAR checks can disrupt the game’s rhythm and momentum,impacting the viewing experience and potentially affecting players’ fatigue levels. This season alone has seen more stoppage with VAR checks, which see players standing around for minutes to then back to full sprints and thus seeing a higher increase in hamstring injuries. On top of that, added stoppage time now sees game times being stretched more and the higher demand on players can take its toll.
  • Subjectivity Remains: Despite VAR, subjective interpretations of certain situations like handballs or fouls persist, leading to ongoing debate and frustration. Clear and Obvious could be one of the most difficult parts when calling a foul. While one person may see a foul as clear another may deem it “soft” or not a foul at all.
  • Pressure On Calls: More pressure on the center ref who in previous years had to make a snap decision and stick to their call while now we see them hold off and put the pressure on VAR to make the call. While this seems good, we are seeing more and more controversy in the game.
  • Uncertainty and Delay: The waiting period for VAR interventions can create tension and uncertainty,impacting both players and fans, potentially affecting their emotional state and gameplay. This can take the sting out of the atmosphere or momentum for a team which can have major impacts on the result. 

Conclusion:

VAR’s impact on football is complex. While it undoubtedly improves decision accuracy and reduces blatant errors, concerns regarding flow disruption, subjective interpretations, and potential psychological effects on players remain. Whether it’s a friend or foe ultimately depends on your perspective and priorities.

The debate continues, and as the technology evolves and adapts, its influence on the beautiful game will likely continue to be a talking point for years to come.