The Use of VAR + Colin’s Top Weekend Tips
What is VAR?
VAR, short for Video Assistant Referee, is a relatively new invention that allows referees to check on decisions with the use of a replay video system. There has long been a call for technology to be used in order to assist referees with important decisions, and it was finally rolled out properly last year in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
However, the first use of VAR was back in 2017, when England took on Germany in a ‘friendly’ – although competitively, it was first used in the FA Cup in 2018 when Brighton Hove faced Crystal Palace.
VAR really hit the spotlight though in the World Cup, and following on from that, it is now being used in Serie A and the Bundesliga to full effect, as well as the FA Cup in the UK; however, it hasn’t hit the Premier League yet.
VAR is a team of three people working in unison to review decisions that have been made by the referee by watching replays of the incident in question.
The team of three is made up by the Video Assistant Referee himself (a current or former ref) alongside his assistant and replay operator. They can be found in the Video Operating Room – which homes a bank of monitors that offer up different camera views and angles.
Obviously, when it comes to football betting, VAR can have a huge impact – the number of penalties will rise, so will the number of bookings quite possibly – which gives punters even more betting options and strategies. So how exactly can it affect the decisions – and can it affect all key decisions?
Is it all refereeing decisions that can be reviewed? Well, there are 4 different decisions that can be reviewed by VAR: goals (and actions/violations in the build-up); penalties; red cards and possible mistaken identity when given a card. The only way a decision by the ref can be overturned is if there is a clear error.
The VAR process can work in a couple of ways. Firstly, the referee can request a review after they have made a decision; secondly, the VAR can recommend a review. If the Video Assistant Referee sees a clear error in judgement by the referee, they can notify the ref.
After the review has been made, the ref has a decision to make: they can overturn the initial decision based on the VAR’s advice; they can review the incident themselves on a touchline monitor; or they can stick with their first decision.
The Use of VAR Now – According to Hendry
VAR is building its name within the game of football. It isn’t everywhere, but it is being tested and rolled out throughout various leagues and tournaments in the world. It’s been trialed in the United Soccer League as well as in the A-League in Australia.
So, is it a success in the eyes of the world? Well, many refs are satisfied with the way it has gone and how everything has been put together, but what about Colin Hendry? What does he think of the use of VAR in the game?
Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be
When asked about how he saw the use of VAR, Hendry’s views were somewhat different to some of the refs who welcomed the addition. He had this to say:
“Obviously, the first real experience we got to of the VAR was in the World Cup, where VAR was used in almost every game that was played. As a result, the amount of penalties awarded in this World Cup compared to previous years went up 174%. It used to be very rare that more than one penalty per game was awarded, but in games where VAR is used, that is becoming a more current occurrence. In this World Cup, an astonishing 29 penalties were awarded, which is 11 more than the previous highest number of 18, in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. In Iran v Portugal there was a prime example of the misuse of VAR when Ronaldo brushed aside a defender who fell to the ground in an absurd manner…
Not a Fan
Personally, I’m not the biggest fan. Firstly, it makes the game much longer with the constant stopping and starting of the game to check decisions – this leads to longer stoppage time at the end of a match. It also stops the flow of the game. Often an extra 7-8 minutes are added to a game as a result.
Also, VAR is still not guaranteed to settle a decision. Looking at a replay for one minute doesn’t always clarify a situation and people will still disagree with the result. Football pundits analyse the same piece of footage at the end of a game for a long time and often they still don’t agree on a penalty or card decision.
As well as this, any incident or decision a team doesn’t like, they will constantly be calling for the ref to VAR check it… where does it stop? Since the introduction of VAR, it’s become more complex and complicated – and it’s all a bit too much.”
On the Other Hand
However, he does understand that there are times when it could have come in handy. “Obviously, using a VAR can cement some game changing decisions. If you look at the England v German game where Lampard’s goal did go over the line, but was disallowed, VAR would have worked here. However, so would goal line technology, which I completely agree with.
Also, looking at the Man City v Liverpool game, if VAR was used in the Kompany tackle on Salah, then a red card may well have been used instead of the yellow, which could have affected the final result – with 10 men playing against 11. Kompany went in with both feet off the floor – which is a red card tackle. Because he got the ball it didn’t look as bad as it was, although a replay might show the ref more clearly. Simple decisions like that between two top teams could mean the difference between winning and losing the league.
Also, the VAR in use at the FA Cup game – Oldham v Fulham, resulted in a penalty decision being rescinded. Again, that decision is the difference between proceeding in the cup.
I can see the benefit of the use of VAR in a game changing decision – and by that I mean a goal.
Where It’s Succeeded
Also, it seems to have been considered a success in other countries that have taken it up. For example, in the Bundesliga, up until October, 18 key decisions were overturned. Apparently the dry run on 2016/17 went well, with the discovery of 104 wrong decisions – 77 which could have been corrected with VAR.
Obviously, when it came into effect into the Bundeliga, it negatively affected players and fans alike, where a decision was awarded to one team – then swiftly overturned and awarded to the other team. It has had teething problems, but is there to stay.
A similar situation can be seen in Serie A, where in the last season, VAR was used 309 times, with 21 decisions being overturned and the rest rubber stamped.
Does it Work?
So, looking at either side, what does he ultimately think? “Well, despite there being good elements of VAR that can benefit the game, ultimately I’m not a fan. Referees should always be near the action – not 20 odd yards away and they should trust their own judgement. It’s one thing when a ball is out of play, or it’s a free kick, but you can’t interrupt play to keep checking decisions. Refs should come into their own now. VAR has extended the game too much and there will always be decisions you don’t agree with even after a review. The game will get slower as a result, with more players wanting to change decisions that don’t go their way.”
Obviously, people are always going to have their own opinion on VAR – some will love it and some will hate it. Like most football decisions, it’s not black and white – there are going to be those coming down on either side of the VAR fence.
The Future of the VAR in the Premier League
Strangely enough, the Premier League has been slower to take it up than other countries – possibly because of the fear of slowing down a very fast game. However, it does seem that we will be joining the VAR party next season. It will be very interesting to see how this addition affects play and affects the teams. Will it cut down diving or will it exacerbate the problem? Will it slow the game down? Lengthen it? Will it be a positive addition or negative?
One thing is for sure, once VAR is introduced to the Premiership, it’ll be here to stay. It’s very unlikely that once it’s established, it will be taken away again.
Whether you love it – or, like Hendry, are more unsure of it, you’ll have an opinion on it. It’s time to get ready for VAR, because it’s coming – and we reckon it’s here to stay.
Five Facts about the VAR
- A VAR team will support the match officials in every one of the 64 matches.
- The entire VAR team will all be located in a central operations room in Moscow.
- All of the VAR team will have access to all broadcast cameras as well as its own dedicated offside cameras.
- The VAR won’t make any decisions. He will simply support the referee in the decisions he makes. The final decision is with the referee only.
- Television broadcasters and commentators can inform football fans and spectators about the VAR process.
Coming Up – Colin’s Top Tips
Arsenal v West Ham United – West Ham are capable of good things this season and could cause Arsenal problems. Colin’s Tip – Draw: Best Odds 13/5 at Bet365
Brighton v Liverpool – Liverpool win: Best odds 7/2 at Bet365
Man City v Wolves – Man City win: Best odds 5/1 at 888sport
Burnley v Fulham – Burnley win: Best odds 6/4 at Bet365
Crystal Palace v Watford – Palace win: Best odds 13/10 at 888sport
Leicester v Southampton – Leicester win: Best odds 19/20 at Bet365
Chelsea v Newcastle – Chelsea win: Best odds ¼ at Ladbrokes