Is VAR a Gimmick or Necessity?

Video assisted referee (VAR) has been a hotly debated topic in the football world since it’s introduction in the 2018 World Cup

VAR is set to be used in the Premier League from the start of the 2019/20 season. This has divided football fans, as some believe that it takes away the excitement from match and disrupts the rhythm of the game. Whereas, other fans think it is necessary as a fair result it far more important than the rhythm of the game.

Throughout the 2018/19 season there have been many refereeing mistakes that have cost teams points and have affected their place in the league. One example was at Southampton earlier in the season. Striker Charlie Austin, had a goal wrongly disallowed against Watford. Austin’s shot deflected off the Hornets defender and missed Southampton player Yoshida by quite a distance, before hitting the back of the net.

The goal was not given due to Yoshida’s offside position. However, the Japanese international was not interfering with play and not in Watford goalkeeper Ben Fosters eye-line. The result of the decision meant Southampton did not double their lead. So when Watford went and scored, Southampton lost out on two points which they would love to have now. The Saints currently sit in 16th position, 5 points off the relegation zone. If they had won that game they would be two points better off, putting them into joint 14th, seven points clear of the drop, a much more comfortable position.


There have also been plenty of examples of goals being scored that never should have been given, these goals were given despite a missed offside decision.

  • Mane against West Ham, Offside.  (04.02.2019)
  • Azpilicueta against Cardiff, Offside. (31.03.2019)
  • Bamba against Brighton, Offside. (10.11.2018)
  • Anderson against Manchester United, Offside. (29.09.2018)
  • Aubameyang against Everton, Offside. (23.09.2018)

VAR would not only stop these goals from being given but would also change other match affecting decisions. These consist of penalties and red cards decisions, and VAR will come into action if there has been a clear and obvious error.

What people against VAR argue is that it takes the human judgement, passion and controversy out of the game. This becomes evident when VAR comes into action as  there is a pause in play while a decision gets made and the crowd have no clue what is going on or what is being said. This could lead to fans becoming disconneected from the match.

With VAR’s introduction looming there is was action that would improve it vastly. In rugby the Referee is miked up and is heard by the crowd and television viewers. Therefore even if people disagree with the decision they can see the referee’s perspective and understand why the decision has been given.

VAR will be introduced to the Premier League in the 2019/20 season, ands will act as a Hawkeye over referee decisions.

Those that still want to debate about decisions mustn’t worry. There is still plenty of debate over whether VAR is correct in its decision as it is still human judgement. Neymar was recently fined after disagreeing with Manchester United’s penalty in the Champions league. A shot struck Presnal Kimpembe’s arm, while his back was facing the striker and a penalty was given for the handball. Marcus Rashford scored the resulting penalty and knocked PSG out of the competition.

“This is a disgrace, they put four people who know nothing about football in charge of looking at the replay for VAR, It’s just not possible!!! How is a guy going to hold his hand behind his back. Go f∗∗∗ yourselves.”

Neymar wrote on his Instagram.

So VAR still has a long way to go for it to be perfect. However, if it’s introduction does reduce most of the refereeing mistakes that have happened this season. This itself would be a huge improvement for the league, which has seen it’s quality of refereeing drop massively in recent years.

With controversy still going to be clear in the Premier League, and with bad decisions being eradicated, surely VAR would be good for the league?


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