How Video-Assistant Referee Technology Is Changing The Playing Field

A new trend has come to football: the video referee. In an age where every fan has a camera, and the game can be captured from a thousand angles, sportscasters and referees need to be able to call the shots with uncontestable accuracy.

The video referee assistant (VAR) technology was born in 2010 of Dutch football researchers at the Royal Netherlands Football Association, and comprises a system of three off-site experts, viewing an array of footage of the relevant parts of the match and relaying peer-reviewed decisions and insights to the on-site referee. The VAR system is gaining prominence in European football, it has been adopted by the Portuguese Football Federation, the Premier League, the Champions League, UEFA, and the Dutch KNVB Cup. Closer to home, it was embraced by Australia’s A-League in the 2017 season.

How It Works

VAR is used in four cases: goal-scoring, penalties, and in awarding red cards and mistakenly awarding yellow cards. Essentially, nothing outside the penalty box gets reviewed, unless it is leading up to a goal or serious enough to potentially warrant a red card.

The team that makes up the VAR are the primary video referee (typically a former referee), their assistant, and a technical officer managing the replays. The on-site referee can request the input of the VAR team after making a call, or the team can request a recall after their viewing. In the event of a ‘clear error’ on the part of the on-site referee, their decision can be overturned.

How It Happens

When the VAR is used, the process of making a call goes as follows:

Step one: an incident occurs during the match, and the VAR is either called on, or makes their own recommendation

Step two: the VAR team review the footage from a variety of angles and notify the on-site referee that they are doing a review.

Step three: after a conference with the VAR team and reviewing the footage from the sidelines, the referee makes or alters a call.

How Valid, Accurate And Reliable Is VAR?

According to an official FIFA release, VAR allows for unparalleled accuracy in decision-making and sportscasting. But do the numbers agree?

After the first season of the Premier League using VAR concluded, it was revealed that the VAR team altered or influenced one decision in approximately three matches, totaling 109 overturns across 380 matches. So, VAR made a significant impact on the League’s individual matches and it wasn’t a gamble like that enjoyed at Lucky Creek online casino.

However, that fact must be weighed against the fact that the analysis revealed an average of six VAR reviews per League match. This tells us that although the VAR teams were very active in assessing potentially ambiguous decisions, they did not often alter the decisions taken by on-site referees.

For this reason, there has been some criticism of the system. Pierluigi Collina, the chair of FIFA’s referees committee, commented that this mechanism might encourage VAR referees to show “the wrong kind of solidarity” with their on-site counterparts regardless of the objective reality.

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