Video review is slowly creeping into all of the world’s major sports and professional football is not immune to the technological trend. While it has not yet spread to La Liga or the English Premier League, the new tech is making its way into Russian leagues and into the FIFA World Cup, where it is going through a kind of market research test on the global stage. For the moment, the system is only in place to deal with plays that happen inside the box, the area directly in front of the goal. But based on the research being done now, football’s governing bodies will make the decision whether to expand it to the whole field, keep it as it is, or get rid of it all together. Like any change to a game as staunchly rooted in tradition as football the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) is causing a huge stir among the players and fans, but there are two sides to every argument, and both sides are doing their best to be heard.
A lot of players are actually quite happy with the new system. They feel like the video-assisted referee adds more overall accountability to the game. They also think it doesn’t let the more deceitful players get away with as many shenanigans as they did in the past. The new review system makes it so that the master thespians out there on the pitch can no longer deceive the officials into marking a penalty against their opposition. In the past players were able to just drop down on the field and roll around in pain to gain the referee’s sympathy. With the new video-assisted reviews the ref’s can know exactly who is faking it and who has a legitimate gripe with their opponent. Players who like the VAR are also heralding a new excitement that it brings to the game, they think the review challenges themselves and gives the fans a new dimension to get excited about.
While some players are heralding the system as fairer, others are decrying that the new Video Assisted Referee slows down the game and lowers the overall quality. They think too much of the game is being eaten up by unnecessary video reviews. Also, many football purists are claiming that human error is part of the game. So while findings are that this new review system has raised the percentage of accurate calls in FIFA games from 94% to 99%, fans of the sport before the VAR are still not happy. They pose the idea that, that 5% adds a level of excitement and uncertainty to the game that a video review never can. For the traditionalists taking the human component out of the game is as much a sin as removing the ball!
Realistically, both sides have valid points in the VAR argument. Human error has been a part of the game since the very first match was ever played. Legends of the game like Pele and Maradona accomplished near miracles without any video assistance at all. But, isn’t making sure the right call was made 100% of the time a legitimate way to make the game more fair overall? Just because some people got sick with a disease, does that mean others shouldn’t partake in a vaccine once it comes around? The facts of the matter are Video-Assisted Refereeing is here, and if there is one thing that is true about technology it is that once it reveals itself, it never goes away. So, whether players love this new tech or not, odds are they are stuck with it for the foreseeable future, so they should learn to work with it.