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VAR to Debut in the Premier League Next Season


Has the VAR helped in any major way? With the video assistant referee (VAR) system set to debut in the Premier League in the next season there are a couple of questions being asked about its use.

The 2018 world cup already saw the technology at work and it helped to turn a couple of decisions around but how is it going to be utilized in an entire season? What decisions will it be used for? These and several more questions were posed to the current General Manager of the Professional Referees Organization (PRO), Howard Webb.

He oversaw the VAR’s introduction in the Major League Soccer in the United States which has, according to him, also “seen almost a hundred errors rectified by the use of the video review and those are errors that would have been significant because they relate to direct red cards, goals and penalty kicks primarily.”

What types of incidents will the VAR be used for?

According to the seasoned referee who was in charge of the 2010 World Cup finals, there are four types of match incidents and decisions the VAR will be limited to.

These include giving correct punishment for an incident on the pitch as in the case of a straight red card, making the right decisions regarding whether a penalty is to be given or not, awarding a yellow or red card to the player deserving it instead of the wrong player as has been seen on a number of occasions, and whether a goal should stand or not based on potential violations in the build-up like offside or fouls.

Testifying to the effectiveness of the VAR’s use in the MLS Webb said the number of red cards for violent conduct has also increased because more cases have been picked up by the system, including those which happened off the ball. Because of this, players will, overtime, get accustomed to the fact that they will be caught. This will result in reduced player violence and also less simulation by players.

Another result of this is that there have been fewer mistakes in the MLS. This kind of result is increases the confidence of everyone in the football world – club owners, managers, the fans, and even those betting on the sport. Those who bet on the sport will have at least eliminated one problem – a lost bet resulting from a wrong decision by a referee. They will only now have to battle with placing their bets on the right sportsbooks sites and are a number of bitcoin sportsbooks sites where they can do this.

How will the VAR’s introduction affect referees?

Webb’s belief is that the VAR will help on-field referees make better decisions. They will be enabled by it to officiate better as they will become confident they haven’t made an erroneous call.

An error “plays on your mind for the rest of the match” and if the game’s outcome is affected by a decision you made, you have no way of knowing “until the end.”

This is going to change because with the VAR, “within ten to fifteen seconds you get a colleague who has been able to check and let you know if it was the right decision and then you can move on to the next one and not worry about the last.” For assistant referees, an important part of the process will be to delay the flag.

Attacks will have to develop and reach their natural conclusion before potential offsides are flagged. Flagging early will result in the referee blowing the whistle at which point the play is interrupted. “If the video shows it’s a mistake there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Has it stopped managers or the general football community from complaining yet?

Besides enabling referees officiate better and the apparent transparency it will bring to the game of football in UK as in other places, it will also take off unnecessary blame from officials. It’s no news that some managers love to rain blames on officials as a way of taking the blame off of their teams when they don’t perform as they should. VAR will bring an end to this.

The MLS has recorded over 1,000 goals this season of which only three of those checked out as goals that would have been disallowed according to Webb. “There is a comfort level that if a goal is scored it is going to get checked. And if there is a clear error, that will be dealt with. So that has to give people comfort that it will get rectified.”

Sure managers still comment on why things were not reviewed and there’s still some criticism due to subjectivity but the acceptance level by all including fans is greater with nearly 2 years in.

“Most people support the use of it” said Webb, “They know the chance of their teams conceding a goal that should clearly not stand has all but been eliminated” he continued.

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