Five basic principles to make VAR a success
Forget Neymar's transfer, it is a change in the way that decisions are made that is altering the direction of the beautiful game.
Although the record-breaking transfer of Neymar has dominated the sports pages over the summer months, one of the biggest debates in the game has been the practicality of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) following its introduction at various levels. From confusion at the Confederations Cup to moments of mixed reaction in Major League Soccer, there is no doubt that VAR requires some serious fine-tuning if it is to ever become a popular part of the beautiful game.
Traditionalists will frown as the basic principles of the game slip further away from the grassroots, but with the financial implications of success and failure at the top level at unprecedented levels, it is inconceivable for crucial decisions to still hinge on the opinion of the referee when the technology is available to eliminate the chance of error.
The introduction of goal-line technology paved the way for further developments in this area, and while this has been a huge success with its flawless and instant calls, using VAR is already proving to be a very different animal to control.
So, if we are to embrace this latest development in a positive way, this is the time to ensure that it is introduced in the best possible way. There are already a number of different procedures in place for making VAR calls, and while these themselves have caused controversy in certain quarters, there are a few basic principles that the decision makers of the game must follow to make sure football doesn't suffer in its search for perfection.
#5 VAR must make refereeing a team game
Football is a team game, and even the greatest creative and attacking players in the world cannot succeed without a solid defence behind them. The various elements that make up the perfect team must combine in harmony to bring the best out of each other, and the various strengths and weaknesses must be considered in the thousands of decisions made by players during the course of a game.
In addition, a team of players must have trust in each other to perform each of their chosen roles, and the same level of trust must apply for VAR to be a success.
There is a natural order of seniority in refereeing, and it is the whistle holder who has the final say. However, responsibility must be delegated accordingly. Those officials chosen to watch the match on a monitor away from the action technically have the biggest calls to make, as they are the individuals that must review the decision in question, and then report back their findings.
With regard to the aspect of trust, it is the match referee who must trust the judgement of the voices they hear following a review of the decision, and the next point explains why...