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The Verdict On Visual Assistant Referees In Football

The Fifa Confederations Cup 2017 made history by introducing football's first visual referees.

19/06/2017 15:52 SAST | Updated 28/09/2017 08:02 SAST
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The evolution of football is on the horizon. With goal-line technology being introduced into football in the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil, the Fifa Confederations Cup 2017 in Russia made history on Saturday after it introduced the first video assistant referee.

Like in rugby and cricket, football referees can now consult with their visual technical team to see if a goal stands or not, and accounts for any human error a referee may have not have seen.

Clarity on goals and emotional swing for players

Football has been accustomed to much controversy when it comes to dubious goals, like the so-called hand of God by Maradona in the 1986 World Cup, where he infamously scored a goal with his hand. Thierry Henry also handled the ball in a build-up to a goal that cost the Republic of Ireland a place in the 2010 World Cup. And Fifa's just flipped the script on how live football is enjoyed with the newly introduced visual assistant referee (VAR).

This system brings about clarity on any issues a referee may be unsure about: offside goals, handballs and incidents where the referee might not have seen clearly. This means human error in football is nullified, and we move to a more objective understanding of the beautiful game.

How it works

  • The VAR reviews the build up of a goal and checks any unauthentic factors such as offsides or a foul in the build up.
  • They then confirm with the referee on the pitch if the goal will stand or not.
  • During that time, players and fans stay in a mini-limbo as they await the goal's fate.
  • All goals have to be confirmed by the VAR.

Here is an incident where the VAR was put into use to the dismay of Chile:

Psychological and emotional factors in football

Some prefer the game of football to be truthful, accurate and goals should be authentic. While VAR has assured this, it also means there will be a massive stop and start in football games as the VAR reviews every play.

It also causes an unnecessary emotional swing from both players and fans. After your team scores a goal and you celebrate, you have to go through the emotions again as you wait on the final verdict from the referee. This changes the dynamics of football.

It also has a psychological affect on players. Disregarded goals could hurt the mindset of a striker. Like Pepe of Portugal who was in disbelief and Vargas of Chile who was denied a goal by the VAR.

Even though it clears the issue of an authentic game, purists argue that they are trying to make football perfect, and this may come to change the natural elements of the game. Many feel that football was better off without it, while others felt it was needed and makes correct decisions, we are to find out the fate of VAR. While it does brings the objectivity and minimise human error, we shall see if the VAR will be introduced into local and international league and how it is to be accepted in the game of football.