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Should VAR be used in football?
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VAR could be fixed if it allowed for the 'benefit of the doubt'

Many of the most controversial VAR decisions have involved the VAR overruling the decision on the pitch based on tiny margins. The rules should specify a higher standard of clarity for VAR to overrule.


VAR stands for Video assistance referee and is a new way technology is used to help football referees on the field when they make decisions. They are mainly used for determining goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards or mistaken identity incidents. The video footage helps the referee to take a decision after viewing the video material. Anyhow, the use of VAR is controversially discussed as it could potentially underpin the role of the referee on the field.

The Argument

VAR has important advantages that allow the referee to make a more informed decision on the field which can increase the overall fairness of a match. However, the rules applying to its use should be modified so that there would be the room for a ‘benefit of the doubt’. This would make the form of decision making more comparable to modern legal systems where the principle of the benefit of the doubt’ in favour of the accused is common. Such a change in the rules would avoid creating big controversies for decisions where the VAR overrules the decision on the pitch by a really small margin. Another reason for the need of such a regulation are the doubts over the accuracy of VAR in several cases. According to a research by the daily mail, VAR has a margin of error up to 38,8cm (14 inches). This can be quite problematic for really close calls. This was the case of the so-called Sterling decision in a game of Manchester City against Westham where the focus of the VAR cameras went to the armpit hair of the player because a false focus. For such incidents, the threshold to use VAR as a mean to overrule the decisions on the pitch should be higher. This would mean an update in rules of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) rules.

Counter arguments

It can be argued that VAR as a technology is 100 percent accurate as it delivers video evidence on what has happened on the pitch and allows to analyse the situation from different angles and with various speeds. Thus, it is able to make a better decision with regards to whether any rules have been breached as a human eye could ever attempt to. Consequently, making the threshold to use VAR as a mean to overrule the decisions on the pitch higher is undermining the technological advance we have made to ensure a fairer game for all participants.



The use of VAR should be more regulated so that small margins and errors don’t create unnecessary controversies.


The use of technology to assess situations should be regulated. The benefit of a doubt shall be applied to all situations.

Rejecting the premises

The assessment of situations through technology is fully secure. The benefit of a doubt shall only apply in legal contexts.


This page was last edited on Thursday, 1 Oct 2020 at 07:34 UTC

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