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Do you agree with VAR...

and could it be used through all tiers of English leagues?

Article by Rob Bird

VAR, otherwise known as ‘Video Assistant Referee’, has been the talk in most towns throughout England this summer, with opinions heavily divided.Coming into the EPL for the first time this season, VAR is used to essentially double check the referees’ decisions at crucial moments of the game, such as whether the build-up to a goal was legal or if there’s a potential red card offence.

Simply it’s been implemented to make the game fairer and offer support to referees who have always been consistently blamed for their decisions over decades of football through all tiers.This begs the question then, could VAR ever be used throughout the lower divisions of England?

Personally, I believe the success of VAR hangs on the current and next EPL seasons going smoothly, which in turn will see more fan acceptance.Most criticisms of VAR have been around two things, firstly how long it takes the referee to make a decision, once they’ve made their way over to the side-line, watched videos of the incident multiple times from multiple angels, consulted with other officials at VAR HQ, actually come to a decision and then said decision being made clear to players and fans.

An example of this was during Liverpool’s FA cup exit to West Brom (WBA) last January, where three incidents were reviewed, with final verdicts being a disallowed WBA goal and also an awarded penalty to Liverpool’s ‘pushed Mohammed Salah’. In total, the three reviews took up toward five minutes of game time, something which Keith Hackett, Telegraph journalist, doesn’t understand. “If the other officials in VAR HQ are telling you it’s a penalty why does he (Craig Pawson) have to go and check again and again”.

Photo: Reuters

The second area of criticism is how VAR can take away the authenticity, surprise and somewhat thrill of football, always supported through ‘the referee’s decision is final’ approach. Furthermore, examples of this came during England’s visit to Portugal for the Nations League earlier this year.

Being there myself, I was involved first-hand as England fans went wild twice at goals through England’s two games against Holland and Switzerland, only to be shut-down, confused and angered once these goals were disallowed. With time, the more this goes on fans will become reluctant to celebrate goals, all too aware VAR is lurking.In fairness to VAR though, it’s yet to cause real controversy in terms of getting something wrong and has defiantly made the game fairer, so if it does succeed, how would the FA and other sporting bodies implement it in other English leagues?

Cost is going to be the main cause of concern, VAR already costing millions to be implemented and sustained at EPL level. Furthermore, you’d have to have many more trained officials, based at many more VAR HQ’s which would again have considerable financial weight, while referees at all levels would need to be trained on how to use VAR and communicate with VAR HQ properly all in order to make a decision in a game that may not necessarily be important at all.With the same token though, if England wants to boast the best football throughout the best leagues for a long time to come, introducing VAR through all tiers would only be a step in the right direction.


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