How will VAR influence the Premier League?
The Cruyff Turn, that wonder volley by Marco van Basten and Ronald Koeman’s net-busting freekicks – the Dutch have certainly made their mark on world football down the years. Will we be adding VAR to this list?
VAR, or Video Assistant Referee to give its full title, was an idea thought up by the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) in the early 2010s. After being trailed in numerous countries, FIFA approved it to be used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. To date in England, VAR has been used for FA Cup and Carabao Cup matches, and in November 2018, Premier League teams voted in principle to use it from the start of the 2019/2020 season onwards.
So, what effect will VAR’s introduction have on the Premier League? The mainstream media have tended to focus on the controversies and criticisms of this technology, and to be fair, there have been a few.
Subjective decisions, such as awarding penalty kicks, are the main bone of contention. Ultimately, this still boils down to a human making the call and several inconsistencies have already been seen in this area.
Leicester’s Marc Albrighton also complained about the speed of decision making with the system. The length of time take between an incident and a decision being given can cause the game to lose momentum and that’s something of a concern to managers, players and fans alike.
Despite this, most tend to agree that VAR is effective for factual decisions such as offsides. Although a row has now flared up in the wake of the Carabao Cup semi final between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, with Harry Kane being adjudged to be onside by VAR. Yet, it turns out that Chelsea staff had access to cameras, which VAR officials didn’t, showing him to be offside.
A survey poll of 2,000 football fans commissioned by Compare.bet showed that 70% of the supporters questioned are in favour of VAR being used in the Premier League.
The VAR survey results page provides several other interesting statistics. 50% wish to see simulation (diving) punished in real time, whilst 3 out of 10 people questioned believe VAR will make the referees lazier in their match officiating duties.
VAR technology is an attempt to reduce the number of incorrect decisions during a match, but curiously, 70% of the fans polled said VAR would mean missing out on the key talking points after the game. Will this kill an element of the game as we know it, and make it too sterile is, of course, a concern.
The Premier League is the most watched, most talked about league in the world. All eyes will be glued to see how VAR technology improves the game. There is a strong feeling among fans that it will offer a level playing field for the smaller clubs to compete on by removing the referee bias shown towards the ‘big boys’.
76% of fans believe that football history would be very different had VAR been in existence since the birth of the game. Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup and Frank Lampard’s goal for England (that wasn’t given) against Germany in the 2010 World Cup were the top two moments English fans would like to turn back the hands of time and use VAR on.
We await to see how the pages of history will be changed for the Premier League by using VAR. love it or hate it. VAR is coming and it’s here to stay.