Is VAR ruining the game?

The impact of VAR on football will continue to be a question that divides opinion amongst the fans.

There are both positives and negatives to take as proven on the biggest stage of all, the World Cup. So how is VAR (video assistant referee system) affecting football? An ESPN poll showed, prior to the World Cup, that fans were split between  whether they were in favour of it being used in Russia or not. You can still bet on the world cup as England continue to progress looking to emulate the team of 66


The system is football’s first use of video technology which enables the correct decisions to be reached more often than not: it is used in four areas when a clear or obvious error has been made by an official. The first of these instances is goals, so an offside or foul will not go unnoticed. Penalties are another area in which they can be awarded or rescinded following the checks. Straight red cards are the third area, but it cannot be used if a red card has been shown following a second yellow card. The final area is with mistaken identity, e.g. when the referee sends off the wrong player, as has happened in the past. Prior to the World Cup there was already a considerable amount of criticism on the system with former West Brom boss Alan Pardew claiming it will spoil the entertainment for football fans. This is down to the fact it can affect the rhythm of play with the continued stoppages in games. But if this results in the correct decision being made, then this has to be a positive for the future of the beautiful game?

There have been so many incidents over the years in which VAR could have made a positive impact, such as the Lampard goal that never was against Germany at the World Cup back in 2010. However, this did help to force through the introduction of goal line technology. Another that comes to mind is the infamous Maradona ‘hand of god’ goal that is now embedded in the history of the competition.

Lamaprd no goal

(England’s Lampard shot is not given as a goal)


VAR still has its issues such as the inconsistency of decisions. One game where this was apparent was the fixture between Iran and Portugal. Referee Enrique Caceres had a feisty encounter to deal with, in which several decisions were reversed following the use of VAR. The award of the penalty to Portugal looked the right decision following the replays but the Iran penalty at the end of the game did not.

This knocked Portugal off the top spot in their group and nearly out of the World Cup altogether after Iran spurned a late chance. This would likely have resulted in ugly scenes because of the affect it had on the match. The highlights of this game can be viewed in the video below. Do you agree with the decisions made? Leave your comments below. This was another indication however that VAR will not affect the entertainment factor negatively and may even enhance it.

England have benefited positively on a couple of decisions at the World Cup which were correct calls showing the positive of VAR. Firstly, when playing Panama, a deflected shot hit Kane’s heel before flying into the back of the net. This looked offside but following a review using enhanced pictures he was being played onside by Gomez’ heel. This goal may be the difference in Kane’s quest for the Golden Boot which would not have been given without the new technology.

The second was due to a foul on a corner. This has been a big factor of modern day football with clear fouls continuing to go unnoticed and unpunished. Prior to the tournament players were warned that with VAR this would not be continuing and this has certainly come to fruition with a vast number of penalties being awarded for fouls in the area. Kane was almost rugby tackled to the floor and the referee’s decision was supported by the use of the VAR despite the complaints from the Colombia players. This was following on from the decisions going against England as they were not awarded a penalty when players were clearly fouled in the opening fixture against Tunisia.

France are also another side to have benefited from VAR. This was in their opening fixture against Australia in which Antoine Griezmann was through on goal before he went down following a challenge. This was not originally given but, following an inspection by VAR, the decision was reviewed and a penalty was awarded. This was the first at the championships and one of the most controversial. The contact was minimal so was it a clear and obvious error? I will leave you to decide that. Many punters had their tips on world cup 2018 on France who have now progressed to the final as they continue to go from strength to strength.

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NSNO Staff

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