What is VAR in football? All you need to know
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However, referees are still learning how to implement the new methods, leading to some serious teething issues. Here’s how the process came into use in the Premier League.
What is VAR in football? VAR football meaning
What does VAR stand for in football? VAR stands for Video Assistant Referee in a football match, who reviews decisions made by the on-field referee. They watch highlights via a high number of screens and review events in slow motion to advise on-field referees. Its purpose is to eliminate clear and obvious mistakes that can be missed by officials in real-time.
They are brought into play during four scenarios:
- Goal/no goal
- Penalty/no penalty
- Direct red card
- Mistaken identity
The VAR checks each decision that falls under these four categories. If no mistake is spotted, play continues. There can be delays while the VAR ascertains whether or not there has been a clear and obvious mistake – much to fan frustration.
If action is needed when a clear and obvious error is spotted, three scenarios can play out:
- The decision can be overturned on the advice of VAR
- On-field review where footage is checked
- Referee ignores VAR advice
The referee then explains their decision to the VAR and proceeds with their desired course of action. A VAR cannot overturn the decision of the on-field referee.
How does VAR work?
The video assistant referee who sits in the video operation room alongside the video assistant referee will try to review the footage from as many camera angles as possible and will try to provide a conclusion to the match referee. The room also has one replay operator to help in the proceedings
The play will be stopped until a further decision is made only the referee has the authority to take the final decision in the match. VAR can make a recommendation to the on-field match official but the referee has the final call in a game.
There could be a number of instances in a match where the referee can halt the match to consult with the video assistant referees. VAR is usually used to determine any match-changing situation on four occasions: mistaken identity, goals, penalties, and red card incidents.
Every possible action can be around those four instances as VAR technology will not be used for other things in a match. Currently, alongside Premier League, the La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, and even Major League Soccer have VAR technology in each of the top-flight games.
VAR can take note during a penalty kick offense like a double touch by the penalty taker, player encroachment during the penalty, goalkeeper movement on the goal line, and other penalty incidents.
He can alter his decisions if he thinks the decision needs to be reviewed. The referee can access the referee review area when VAR prompts him to rectify a clear and obvious error. The monitor cannot be used all the time and only after the consultation with the video assistant referee the match official can take a video review.
VAR can disallow a goal if it finds out any offense when the attacking team gained possession. The Initial decision will be the referee’s but he can always consult with the video assistant referee. The referee can rule out the goal and restart the play after he makes his decision.
During a penalty decision, VAR can be of much help as it can determine whether the foul is committed inside the penalty box or if the involved players were in an offside position. Also in the case of diving where a penalty has already been awarded to the team.
VAR can also intervene when an obvious goal-scoring opportunity is denied by a player or set of players. When it comes to a missed incident or serious foul play the referee can take the help of the pitch side monitor after consultation with the video assistant referee.
There is also a factor that once play has restarted VAR cannot follow up the past incidents and play must be stopped if a VAR review process is going on. Supporters can be aware of the proceedings on the big TV screen as they can also actively take part in the game.
What are the benefits of VAR in football?
The use of VAR has also reduced errors from match officials as they now very often refer to the VAR team officials to review an ongoing situation on the pitch. The VAR review process can be lengthy at times. And VAR can advise the match referee to have a look at the incident himself in the referee review area.
There is a monitor placed beside the pitch and the referee can on-field review the footage and take necessary decisions. VAR can inform the referee when a match-changing incident happens or the referee can consult with VAR.
When was VAR introduced?
Video Assistant Referee technology was first used in Russia in 2018. It was enough of a success that it was rolled out across all the major European leagues in the following years. Referee Andres Cunha awarded the first penalty by VAR at the 2018 World Cup.
The use of video assistant referees was first introduced into the Premier League in the 2019/20 season. Extensive testing on the system had taken place in the years before, including trialing it in FA Cup and Carabao Cup matches.
Why was VAR introduced?
VAR in football will give referees more resources to make correct decisions in the big moments.
Current technology and social media’s reach mean fans can spot mistakes. So, using that technology to improve officiating made sense given its adoption in other sports.
In 2016, the International Football Association Board approved trials for video referees or “live experiments”. By March 2018, IFAV had allowed the use of VARs. And later that year Premier League clubs voted to introduce it in the 2019/20 season.
The responsibility of VAR has since transferred from IFAB to FIFA, though the parties continue to work closely together regarding VAR protocol and any related laws.
Conclusion: What is VAR in football?
VAR has become an integral part of modern football. The implementation of the technology has been highly controversial in recent seasons for its involvement in all major moments.
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