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Is VAR good for football?
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VAR does not fit in with football match structure

Constant stoppages to review decisions are unwelcome distractions and could put people off
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FIFA wants the VAR system to produce "minimum interference, maximum benefit".[1] Even when technology works, it interferes with the game and the way it is used at only certain levels does not create a level playing field.

The Argument

During the early stages of testing of the VAR system, FIFA's claim that its interference on the game would be minimal was heavily criticised by those watching. In some cases, referees deliberated for minutes before making a decision. That is the sort of delay that is unacceptable to many fans who enjoy watching the game flow as seamlessly as possible. With little idea of why a decision is reviewed or by whom, players, coaches and fans are often left bemused as to what is going on. Delays to the game - particularly in cold weather - could increase the risk of players picking up injuries. Furthermore, as technology is only available at the very highest level, this creates a disconnect in the game. Only the elite benefit from the advantages of technology, creating something of an uneven playing field. Even at the very highest level, the Premier League has come in for criticism[2] for its refusal to use VAR until they feel it has been sufficiently refined and players at international level criticised its use.[3]

Counter arguments

As trials of the VAR system have continued and the technology has been refined, the amount of interference and delays have been significantly reduced. At the World Cup in 2018, the average VAR review took just 80 seconds.[4] While there is work to do to make the system more transparent, it is working and players, coaches and fans are beginning to understand the system better the more they see it in action. The technology can only be made available at the highest level due to the costs involved. Trying to "level the playing field" by applying the same technology to every league would be too expensive to be unsustainable. While some players and coaches are disappointed that VAR is not being used throughout Europe's top leagues, it is the clubs that have the final say.



Increased use of technology necessitates stoppages and delays which do not sit well with football's established rhythm and routine. Technology is not applied at every level and even at the very highest level not all leagues are using it. It is creating an uneven playing field.

Rejecting the premises

As the technology is being used more, delays are shorter than feared and necessary to get decisions correct. Applying technology to all levels of the game is impossible due to its cost.


This page was last edited on Monday, 20 Jan 2020 at 15:26 UTC

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