By: Hana Kotb

The Video Assistant Referee System (VAR) is the football world’s first use of video technology to reach more precise decisions. Refs watch the match in a remote locations with access to many camera angles with mikes where they can alert officials of any mistakes. VAR has already been used in the World Cup’s group stage and has helped making decisions including France’s penalty against Australia and Sweden’s penalty against South Korea. This is the first World Cup using this system.

VAR is only used when the officials have made a “clear and obvious error” in one of four areas. It’s only restricted to the following areas as to not disrupt the flow of the game.

1. Goals
A close offside decision, shirt-pulling and other infringements.

2. Penalties
Penalties can be awarded or revoked using VAR if there’s an obvious mistake in the original decision.

3. Straight Red Cards
By straight, we mean a red card given because of a violent tackle, not a second yellow card that results in a red card.

4. Mistakes identity
If the red sends off the wrong player, then VAR can repair the injustice.

HOWEVER, there are football fans who have criticized VAR, and here’s why. Fans in the stadium are not aware of when a decision is being revised especially if there’s no big screen. This disrupts the experience. Another criticism is that despite the availability of replays, there remain debates and disagreements about penalty incidents. Decisions still come down to human interpretation. Also, the time it takes for decisions to be reached disrupts the flow of the match. Some games with VAR in use have produced five or six minutes of first-half stoppage time.  Skeptics have also claimed that the spontaneous joy of goal celebrations is lost due to the possibility of a review. And lastly, they’re afraid that World Cup referees lack sufficient experience of the technology.

So what do you think of VAR? Is it essential to keep things fair or is it ruining football?