VAR is the future of football and will only improve with time

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is necessary in the modern era of football as the game is played at such a high pace and everything is caught on camera. Officials at the top level of football need help to maintain the credibility of results by having every decision correct, even if it means overruling or picking up on something that the referee has missed. This is because the game has evolved, players play at a faster pace and are more streetwise when the match officials are involved.

Recent evidence of VAR successfully achieving the right outcome was in the Monday Night Football between Manchester United and Arsenal. The game ended in a draw but only because VAR correctly overruled referee Kevin Friend when he initially ruled out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal as he was deemed to be in an offside position. After consulting VAR, which proved that Aubameyang was actually in a clear onside position, the decision was overruled and the goal was allowed to stand. This earned Arsenal a point on the night and had it not been for VAR, Manchester United would have walked away with an undeserved 3 points.

Criticism of VAR during its early implementation in Premier League football has been directed at its disruption of matches, occasionally reaching the wrong decision and undermining the referee’s authority and decision-making. The undermining of referees is a non-issue. The most important thing is for the correct decision to be made so that there are no unjust results. Even if this causes referees to look less competent, it is a necessary step in providing integrity to results.

As VAR is piloted by people, there is of course still a chance for human error regarding decision-making just as there is when referees are on their own. The difference is that with VAR there is technology to aid the decisions. VAR officials can look at an incident multiple times before coming to a conclusion, whereas the referee only gets to look once and even then it is at high speed. This significantly reduces that amount of wrong decisions made by referees and means that the vast majority of games are fairly officiated.

In addition to this, one of the most heavily criticised parts of VAR is how it can disrupt matches. This is most definitely a problem with VAR. However the solution for it is to simply have continued implementation. Without seeing VAR in top flight level football how will any improvements be made so that it takes less time. VAR needs to be continued in the Premier League so adjustments can be made so that it become efficient and even more effective. With time, the main issues with the current system will be highlighted and steps can then be taken to resolve them.  

The benefits of VAR, most obviously that fact that it increases the accuracy of officiating are substantial. Having matches refereed more accurately will lead to less controversy surrounding results. This is good for everyone except those who are addicted to drama. Another debateable benefit of VAR is that it can reduce the pressure on officials. It can lead to referees being more confident with decisions which will likely improve accuracy to begin with.  

To support VAR the rules surrounding it need to be more concrete. This way there can be positive precedent set for referees and VAR to follow. The main issue in this area is the rules regarding handball. In time, the rules on handball can be made more stonewall and clear so that both VAR and referees can make more accurate decisions.

VAR will be an important part of football in the next few years as its teething process continues as there will be more obstacles and debate. In the end, VAR will be in improvement on the modern game and will be here to stay.  

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