World Cup 2018: Studying how VAR has had an impact on the tournament
We have reached the knockout stage of this year’s world cup and many articles are being written on the most impactful player of the tournament. Names like Ronaldo, Modric, Coutinho, De Bruyne, Neymar, Iniesta, etc are doing the rounds. While Harry Kane, Lukaku and Ronaldo are the top three scorers of the group stage, based on ratings done by some sites, Milan Badelj of Croatia is on the top of the ratings. Further, Sergio Ramos with 95% tops on the most accurate passes given per game and Leo Messi is having the most successful dribbles per game of 74% with average 6.7 dribbles per game. Egypt's El Hadary has the most saves per game of 6 per match whereas Badelj of Croatia is having the most number of intercepts per game with an average of 6 per match.
Debates on social media are getting stronger and stronger surrounding the impacts caused by these players. However, we will be surprised to find out that by sheer numbers and statistics, VAR has caused the most impact on this world cup so far!
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system has been introduced by FIFA for the first time in a major tournament. The design principle behind using VAR is to correct “clear mistakes” made by the referee or linesman during the game. As per the FIFA guidelines, VAR can be used only for four specific types of decision: penalties, goals, red cards and cases of mistaken identity. However, the final call will be taken by the referee.
Impact of VAR
Let’s come to the direct impact of VAR in this world cup. There has been a total of 25 penalty kicks in this world cup up to the match between Iran and Portugal held on 25th Jun. That match was the 35th match of this world cup, which will have 64 matches in total. Already this world cup has broken the record of maximum number of penalties, which was previously 18 in 1990, 1998 and 2002 world cups.
Out of the 24 penalties awarded so far, 7 has been awarded by the VAR system; which is a whopping 29% impact. The success rates of the penalties have been 60% with 15 of the total 25 converted into goals. Out of a total of 335 incidents checked through VAR (with an astonishing number of 6.9 average per match), there were 14 decisions changed after VAR reviews. Apart from this, there are so many additional incidents of VAR reviews surrounding red / yellow cards, etc.
While VAR is having its own share of controversy with diversified opinions, it is clear that you may like or hate VAR, but you cannot simply ignore it!