When VAR or Video Assistant Referee first came into use back in 2016 with a United Soccer League match between two Major League Soccer reserve sides, it was expected that football would take a huge turn in its gameplay.
A “pitchside monitor” was introduced at the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup, allowing referees to review footage from the field. The A-League in Australia became the first to use a VAR system in a professional league game on 7 April 2017, when Melbourne City played Adelaide United. Although there was no need of VAR in that match. Gradually, VAR came into use in major Football tournaments and leagues with 2017 Confederations Cup becoming the first notable tournament to initiate this modern system of technology that was adopted by football. Apart from few glitches that’s quite understandable as it was the creation of man, VAR has been well accepted by Football World.
With it’s wide acceptance and popularity, it was decided to enact VAR in 2018 World Cup. It increased the interest of the viewers of the tournament who were not aware of the system as it wasn’t used in the top leagues of the World namely English Premier League and Spanish La Liga. The VAR was first used in the Group C encounter between France and Australia where France were awarded a penalty from which Griezmann scored. Apart from that, Australia in their match against Peru were awarded penalty via VAR. Iran’s goal, which would’ve put them in the contention for the knockout stages was ruled after VAR proved it was an offside.
But, the question arises. Is VAR becoming too much nuisance for the players? It indeed is breaking the momentum of a fast paced game like football. Apart from that, it is also creating situations of tension and confusion among the players, coach, support staffs and even, the fans. The use of video technology at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup was criticised after several contentious moments involving VAR at the tournament. It was accused of “creating as much confusion as clarity”. In a Bundesliga match between Mainz and Freiburg in April 2018, players were instructed to return to the pitch, having left for half time, after VAR determined that a penalty was due.
So, still it is the early days of VAR and it’s showing signs of both appreciation and criticism. Although, well received by FIFA,the system requires a few updates and improvements which is indeed expected to be improved in the upcoming days of the game.