VAR Technology: The Future Of Soccer Or The Downfall

When it was first revealed that new tech was coming to Soccer, we were excited. We waited in anticipation of how it might be used in the great game. Technology has endless possibilities, and so far, it’s only enhanced our lives. That’s what we expected with VAR. Bringing the technology pitchside can only make it better, right?


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VAR, under a different name, has been used in Rugby for years to great success. There’s ‘Hawkeye’ in Tennis too, and its a brilliant tool at the umpires disposal. With all these great examples of virtual refs, we’d be forgiven for assuming it’d be the same for Soccer and VAR.


But there doesn’t seem to be much of a success story here. Finding reports of VAR advantages is hard, but you’ll have no such trouble finding controversies. Look at the latest flop – VAR missed Pickfords’ dodgy challenge in the Premier League. Van Dijk has been left with a damaged ACL and a future of missing games. Dermot Gallagher, the retired ref, said that the VAR review was flawed. They looked for whether it was a penalty, saw it was offside, then they stopped looking for other offences.


Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of the Virtual Assistant Referee and see if it’s really worth all the trouble.




We’ll get the tricky bit out of the way first, are there actually any pros to using VAR?


  • The refs get a second chance. Pretty straight forward but can make all the difference on the pitch. We are humans, after all, and it’s in our nature to make mistakes. (Even with the help of VAR if you’re looking at the Pickford challenge. But this is pros for VAR, so we’ll leave that one there)


  • It can make a game memorable. A game-changing decision through VAR is a sure way to making sure fans never forget it.


  • You have to admit; it does bring a certain amount of suspense to the great game. There’s tension and drama as fans wait with bated breath for the final call.


  • VAR gives a tonne more accuracy when fine margins are involved at game making, or breaking moments. The player could only just be onside or offside at that pivotal moment, and VAR lets us see for sure, changing games completely. This can also be its downfall, we’ll get into that next.


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We won’t mess around getting into the cons, it should be a breeze.


  • Where accuracy is brilliant for those fine margin moments, it can be taken to the extremes. We’re all aware of “toenail” offsides. Don’t worry, we’ll leave that there. It’s a sensitive subject for us all.


  • Human error. It was hoped that introducing the robot ref, mistakes would be fewer. But it seems that they’ve forgotten that it’s still overseen by humans.


  • It puts celebration moments on hold. Fans and players have to wait for their famous goal-scoring performances, whilst goals are checked and scrutinised. This might sound totally frivolous, but they’re a massive part of the theatre of the game.


  • VAR isn’t consistently used. Some refs prefer to trust their on-field decisions, while others will tirelessly use VAR. If it’s going to be used, it has to be used properly, by everyone, to keep the game fair.


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You made it. You dragged yourself through the pros and cons of VAR. But what did we learn? Like all technology, when it’s first introduced to a new arena, VAR has teething problems. The idea of it is excellent. But its issues need to be addressed. Until then, it’ll never be embraced by fans and players alike.


Maybe VAR has more pressing issues though. If you have finely honed your own Fantasy Football team, then you’ll know of the plight. VAR can really mess up all the time and effort put into the perfect team. The disallowed goal for a kneecap offside. Your best player being sent off for an offence that would never have been seen without VAR. Although, with more penalties than ever being awarded because of VAR, there are plenty more points up for grabs when you choose the right players.


A bit of advice though, maybe we should just stick to virtual sports. VAR isn’t in any of the great Soccer games. FIFA and PES are free from its troubles, and they get better with each release. There are plenty of sports games available to fill up your free time, so escape to them. Leave the fixing of VAR down to the professionals.


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