VAR: Helpful or Harmful?

VAR: Helpful or Harmful?

It seems like every game I have watched in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, I have seen at least one decision go to VAR every single game. It feels like the game has come to the point that it is being officiated with the intent to ensure VAR is used.   Like it or not, human error with refereeing is a part of the game. We may not like it at times, but it is the foundation that sports was built on. Adversity has created champions in all sports. Team and individual performances when “our back is against the wall” is what makes sports so great.

Referees seem to be using it as a concrete back up plan. They allow play to continue until a stoppage of play, or the game gets to a reviewable scenario. Players are being allowed to score a goal even if they are offsides. Why? This would give the opportunity for the referee to review the call using VAR. Therefore ensuring that the right call would be made with the help of review. No more pulling the trigger on a live game call and being wrong. There is a lack of confidence within officials, fearing that what they see live is not the right call. As much as I understand that this occurs, I feel that FIFA has gone overboard to ensure that there is never a missed call.

As fans of soccer and spectators, we all want the games to be officiated well. We want the right calls to be made, judgement decisions to be accurate, and the letter of the law to be followed by both players and officials. However, isn’t this taking things a little too far? Human error is a part of any soccer game, which includes the Women’s World Cup. I fully support VAR in regards to utilizing it for obvious errors. But now it seems it is being forced at the cost of a fair and exciting game of soccer. You know, the type we buy tickets for. The type of game that you and your friends huddle around the TV in suspense for that last minute goal. It is almost as if we as a soccer community said “that’s not fair” and “we need to fix this permanently”. Well folks, wish granted. But, at what expense?

I remember watching the 2006 World Cup in Germany on a DVD I received as a Christmas present about 0 years ago. You might remember a group stage game between Croatia & Australia. There was an English referee by the name of Graham Poll who made a catastrophic error. During the course of the game, he mistakenly yellow carded the same player 3 times. Yes, 3 yellow cards before being sent off the pitch. This is a situation where it can completely change the outcome of the game.Would most soccer fans support VAR in this manner? I would say almost 100%. But we aren’t getting this type of minimal use of VAR for major errors like I believe most of the soccer world expected. We are getting delay after delay, charismatic players motioning for VAR review at every turn, and referees who are supposed to be the best in the world handling World Cup Games like a U11 match.

While I can support VAR in certain situations, its current status and usage is ruining the game. It has taken away any form of human error. And while we would expect FIFA referees to be minimal in errors, we surely do not expect them to be errorless. My take: VAR needs to go until it is modified. I am not willing as a soccer fan to have the beauty and excitement of a game to be overshadowed by VAR.  Am I wrong?  Maybe.


Jun 23rd 2019 Jonah Longino

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