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Introduction of the Video Assistant Refereeing in Football

It is the sole role of a referee in a football match to enforce the gaming laws. It has been a great concern whereby there are instances of controversies at interpreting some fouls as the game proceeds. These controversies are brought about by the referee’s observation which can be influenced by factors such as:

  • The frequent high speed of the ball can be as high as 120km/hr during shots, making it challenging for human vision to make an exact judgment or even other cognitive systems to make a good estimation.
  • The parallax error theory can easily explain the referee position in the field. The occasional deceptive change in the relative position of an object is subject to influence the observer aspect as per his or her view.

The emergence of supporting technologies to help the referee in proper decision making and avoid or reduce the occurrence of the incorrect decision have been on the rise in the past few years. Examples of these advances are supportive refereeing and a microchip ball that helps the referee through programmed signals, microphones, earpieces, tracking systems for offsides, and sensors on the goalposts. The most recent has been the video assistant referee. This type of technological advancement in football helps the referee to enhance the overall quality of refereeing in the entire game of football. Having a good guide toward the referee’s decision-making ensured that football integrity is protected and more qualitative content is being aired to the football fans. So, the most crucial question is:

What is Video Assistant Referee?

The Video Assistant Referee is a Hawk-eye innovation owned by Sony. The Hawk-eye innovations hold the patent for VAR and are in the process of getting a legal licensing agreement with FIFA to supply Hawk-eye technology to all the major leagues across the globe. This VAR is whereby the video assistant referees watch a match in a video operation room with the assist of the VAR machine and the replay operator. Since the adoption of this technology in the English Premier League, all the Video Assistant Referees are based in Stockley Park, South West London.

This technology provides the referee with the chance to have a second look at a specific part of a play before he makes the final decision on the most appropriate course of action. Some of the critical areas the VAR has helped include:

Goal scoring

The VAR plays its role by assisting the referee in deciding whether there could have been an infringement that could mean the goal should be allowed or not. Once the ball gets past the goal line, play is interrupted, so there is no direct impact posed to the game.

Penalty Decisions

The VAR plays its role in penalty decision making by ensuring that no wrong decisions are made together with the award or non-award in the event or occurrence of a penalty claim.

A perfect example is the pretend dive mostly done by opposing players in the rival penalty box. It also helps protect the referee from the wrath of the enraged fans and players by giving them decisions that have fewer mistakes and a more concrete judgement when taking a judgement that might go against their wish.

Incidences of red card

It plays a vital role in guaranteeing that no wrong decisions are made that might be related or in conjunction with the act of “sending off or not sending off” due to a player’s irresponsible behaviour during a game.

Mistaken Identity

In the event of a nasty foul, the referee cautions or even sends off the specific player, just in case the referee did not have a clear sight of the happenings, he invokes the help of the VAR. The VAR replays the incidents of foul play, which inform the referee and hence the correct player faces the full wrath of his or her foul.

How the VAR Functions

Step 1: Occurrence of incidence

If the referee wants to clarify an incident, the VAR can automatically recommend a situation that needs to be reviewed through reply.

Step 2: Review and advise the referee

The incidence footage is reviewed by the VAR, who then advises the referee via a wireless headset what can be seen in the video after proper clarification.

Once the VAR team reviews the video footage, the referee is advised on the best judgement to make in the form of discussion from the referee’s knowledge of the game’s rules. The referee confirms the verdict from a screen on the side of the field of play, and when he agrees, he takes the most appropriate action or decision.

Other official criteria used when using the VAR for review are listed below.

  • The referee should make his own decision before the use of VAR
  • The referee must remain visible during the review
  • Players and the team officials should not surround or communicate with the referee during the review
  • When play continues after the review incident, any in-play disciplinary actions taken in the post-incident period should never be cancelled
  • The players, coaches or any team officials cannot request a VAR review

With the Video Assistant Referee adoption, there has been fairness in the gaming arenas by making correct decisions after a critical judgment of incidents. The referees are human, so they can also make errors that are corrected by the VAR technology.

The technology also entertains the fans by creating odd suspense before a decision is made. In a VAR review in the stadium, all fans get tension; others shout with joy or even murmur as they prejudge on possible judgement to be made. This anxiety helps in adding an extra dimension to the overall game mood.

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