Should VAR be implemented in the English Premier League next season?
- A critical review of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR); is it a good fit for the English Premier League or not?
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is a technology implemented to review the decisions of the head referee with the use of video footages in a football match. After several trials in various competitions and leagues, VAR was officially written in the Laws of the game of football by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).
The VAR is basically tasked with the review of four major officiating decisions; Goals, Red cards, Penalties and mistaken identities.
VAR was first used in a top-flight football league match in Australia on the 7th of April, 2017 in a match against Melbourne City and Adelaide United. The game ended without VAR been called into action. The following day, VAR was used to identify an illegal handball in the penalty area resulting to a penalty against Sydney FC in the match against Wellington Phoenix which eventually ended in a 1-1 draw.
The VAR system was introduced at the beginning of the 2017-2018 season in the Bundesliga and Serie A and this season (2018-2019) the system is also introduced in the La Liga. The system was used in the World Cup, and other competitions including the FA Cup back in January 2018.
The use of VAR has been met with mix reactions. After the conclusion of the Russia 2018 World Cup, FIFA declared the system a success. Since then, various leagues across the world have adopted it, while others like the Premier League have declined it implementation vehemently citing numerous flaws of the system.
Why is VAR not used in the English Premier League?
Despite seeing other top-flight football leagues in Europe successfully introduced the VAR system in the 2018-2019 seasons, the English Premier League nonetheless kicked off without the system.
The decision to make do without VAR for the 2018-2019 EPL season was reached upon as far back as April this year after various FA cup matches were deemed marred by the system. This led to the discontinuation of the system’s trails in England.
During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, more than 450 incidents were checked by the VAR officials and 20 were actually reviewed by the head referee, with 17 of those been influenced by the VAR system.
Without the VAR, on-field officials got about 95 percent of the decisions during the world cup correct. But with VAR it was a 99% accurate decisions made. The data released after the FIFA World Cup in Russia suggests that with VAR in place, human errors will be reduced to a great extent.
The average time taken for a VAR review is approximately 80 seconds. Which further quench the fear that VAR might slow down the pace of games. So far, the system has proven very effective in the leagues that implemented it. The system’s impact has been felt greatly in Spain and Italy, which means the English FA’s decision to boycott VAR might be regretted.
Over the years, there have been too many controversial officiating decisions that altered too many matches and results in the Premier League. We have seen several cases of mistaken identities where a player from the same team was given a red card or penalized for the offense of another.
There are also cases of goals scored in the offside position, goals wrongly disallowed and so many controversial penalties that would have been averted if VAR was in place. It is rather surprising how the English Premier League clubs voted against a system that so far has proven to be a perfect solution and a helping hand in officiating decisions.
Though the System won’t be used during Premier League matches this season, it will be used exclusively in the FA and the Carabao Cups for 2018/2019 season. With the UEFA Champions league making plans to introduce the VAR system in later stages of the competition, the English FA should re-think and introduce the system at the start of next season. The English FA will soon realize that it would have been better to implement the VAR system sooner rather than later.
Published 26 Aug 2018, 17:28 IST