Should VAR be used in football?

The video assistant referee (VAR) has proven highly controversial since its introduction in FIFA's Laws of the Game in 2018, after years of calls for video to be used. Has it helped make football fairer or is it destroying the spectacle of the beautiful game?

Yes. VAR is a net positive to the game

VAR makes the game better and thus should continue to be used

VAR makes the game fairer

VAR prevents teams from being denied victories by poor refereeing decisions or outright cheating. Ultimately, the officals' role is to be as impartial and fair as possible and so officials having the greatest amount of information is always good for the game.

VAR will reduce cheating and fouling

Cheating should not be tolerated in football and reckless behaviour that can lead to injury should be limited as much as possible. When players know that they are always being watched, they should be less inclined to cheat or play danegously.

VAR can create a more attacking game

VAR means that defenders will have to be more careful in their own penalty area. This should lead to more chances for attacking football to flourish, as attackers will be willing to try and take on defenders in the box rather than playing it safe.

Normal referees make too many mistakes

It's impossible to expect referees to get every decision correct while watching a match at full speed, often from bad angles. VAR, on the other hand, can avoid these mistakes.

Goal-line technology in football was a great success

Goal-line technology faced many of the same questions as VAR, but proved to be very successful. It's only a matter of time before VAR's place in football is similarly seamless.

VAR should lead to less complaining

Players swarming the referee after a bad decision can completely disrupt a match, and often complaints overshadow the events on the pitch entirely. If the referee could see everything clearly on video there should be less tedious controversy.

No. VAR has made football worse

VAR has been a failure and should be scrapped

Fans can no longer celebrate goals in the same way

Every decision is now subject to doubt as many goals are ruled out by VAR. VAR has made the experience worse for football's most important group: the matchgoing fan.

Mistakes are part of the game

Sports are about what the very best humans can achieve. Sometimes humans get things wrong. Rather than using technology to fix these mistakes, we should embrace human error.

VAR kills the passion of the game

The rules of football were mostly created more than 100 years ago. They reflect a vastly different time long before television cameras and with less skilled referees. As a result, some of these rules don't function as intended when we can suddenly see the tiniest details of what happened.

VAR takes too long

VAR often needs to review a decision from several angles several times to be correct. This takes up a huge amount of time and gets in the way of the actual football to be played.

Football is too free-flowing for VAR

Play can go on for several minutes in football without any sport of clear break and it's not uncommon for a chance at one end to be followed immediately by a counter-attack at another. Stopping play to look at replays would interrupt these crucial parts of football.

VAR can't review everything

A game of football will be filled with risky challenges and potential handballs, never mind action off the ball. Looking at every moment simply isn't possible and looking only at "important" moments isn't fair.

Yes, but something needs to change

VAR in its current form is a failure, but it could be adapted in a way that makes it work.

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 is being deliberately sabotaged in England

The Premier League and its referees do not want VAR to succeed. As a result, they are deliberately implementing it as badly as possible to see it scrapped.

Video review has been a success in other sports

The TMO in rugby brought no such controversy to the game and has been widely embraced. This shows that similar success in football is possible.
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This page was last edited on Thursday, 1 Oct 2020 at 10:46 UTC