The 2018 FIFA World Cup, although being the biggest sporting event of the year, stirred debate over the pros and cons of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), and it is presented again at Sunday’s Community Shield season opening at Wembley. But when the Premier League takes off next week it will do so without the presence of the VAR. Most think that it is a mistake, while others have other things to say.
Although the latter suggests that the VAR is far from perfect, it can hold its own when used correctly. The technology itself is a huge help to officials, and this could be a decision the Premier League might regret. The clubs voted on the issue a couple of months back, when several FA Cup matches had been afflicted with the technology, and at the time there was insufficient objection when they chose to move forward for another season.
However, if they were to make the same decision today, the story could end differently. The figures presented by FIFA shows that there were a total of 455 incidents checked by VAR during the previous World Cup. Only 20 reviews led to a review by the on-field official, with 17 decisions changed. What that means is that the absence of VAR gives the officials a 95% chance of getting decisions correct, but brings the numbers further up to 99% with VAR. This gap can make a huge difference, and there are talks that the referees would want VAR to be part of Premier League matches as soon as possible. Mistakes are unavoidable, but raising the curtains to new technology can help make the right call almost all the time, including offsides and fouls within the penalty box.
The VAR might make its way to the Premier League next season. In fact, there are a handful of mistakes visible in the early stages of the coming campaign and I wouldn’t be a surprise if the technology gets an introduction before the end of the year. Despite the few tweaks that need to go with the system, there’s no denying that the Virtual Assistant Referee is a major breakthrough in both club and international tournaments.