How has technology affected the soccer industry?
A lot of ways actually.
The attention that was heaped on the VAR (video assistant referee) system at the World Cup in Russia was to be expected given what a huge upheaval it was for soccer.
But what exactly does it do, and why has it caused so much controversy?
What is VAR?
The video assistant referee (VAR) is a match official who has access to multiple camera angles as well as a headset to communicate with the referee on the pitch. It is a system designed to help the referees make the correct decision with the help of video reviews. The circumstances where it may be used are as follows:
- Goals – To ascertain whether a goal has been scored by seeing if the ball has crossed the line.
- Red cards – To review red card decisions made by the referee to make sure no errors have occurred that could see a player sent off and vice versa.
- Penalties – To review decisions made by officials in regard to whether a penalty should have been awarded or not.
- Mistaken identity – To make sure the correct player is sanctioned or to help the officials identify which player was involved in any given incident.
As it stands, the system is only used in international soccer and some of the top leagues in Europe, with the UK Premier League expected to follow suit.
How does VAR work?
If a decision is made that the official in the video room feel needs reviewing, they will contact the referee on his earpiece, and he will watch the incident on a pitch-side monitor. He will then make a final judgment based on the video footage, which often gives multiple angles and the ability to slow down the footage.
The technology is more likely to get the big decisions right, so there will be fewer controversial calls. This can only be a good thing as matches are less likely to be decided by the wrong decisions, which is beneficial for areas such as betting on sites available through Oddschecker, which allow bets on a vast variety of in-game events that VAR is designed to make calls on.
How has VAR affected soccer?
The game being stopped has been the biggest point of objection by detractors, but many see it as a vital tool to help referees.
Leagues such as Serie A in Italy and the Bundesliga in Germany implemented the system with success after early problems, such as lengthy delays which angered fans, in the 2017/18 season. The French and Spanish leagues joined the trend last season, but the UK’s Premier League is only implementing it for the first time in the upcoming season.
Unfortunately, the system is unable to be completely objective so there have been contentious decisions which had a major impact on the 2018 World Cup final and this season’s edition of the Champions League final.
Although there have been teething problems, it has worked well so far and will continue to be improved.
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