Reading Time: 3 minutesProbably all of us know Diego Maradona’s famous and controversial goal scored during a match between England and Argentina in the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter finals. Maradona used his hand to score the first goal in the match. Under FIFA rules, the goal should be disallowed, but as the referees did not have a clear view of that situation and no technology that would allow to see a replay of that situation existed then, the goal was counted what caused a lot of controversy.
A lot of situations like that have happened in football. Goals that should have been disallowed but were not, offsides, fouls that were not seen by the referees. All of that causes controversy and especially outrage either towards the teams, certain players or referees. An idea of using video footage got more and more popular over the years as technology advanced. An idea of adding an additional referee, so called Video Assistant Referee was born.
VAR was tested from early 2010s, its first appearance was in the Eredivisie, the top football league in the Netherlands, although it was only in a phase of testing. The first official match played with VAR was in 2016 in a match between Ajax and Willem II. VAR already proved to be successful in that game as based on a video replay, a yellow card given to a player was turned into red after an uncertain situation. The introduction of Video Assistant Referee to football matches was a game changer as it brought a possibility of watching replays of disputable situations in matches. With VAR present on the match, Maradona’s “Hand of God” would not result in an accepted goal today, even tiny fouls or offsides can not escape from VAR’s all-seeing eyes. This is generally praised, but paradoxically presence of VAR can cause some bizarre situations. There are even some accusations that VAR disfigures football matches and causes confusion.
“VAR creates as much confusion as clarity in Confederations Cup final”
The other situations that led to simmiliar reactions either from news outlets or fans are controversial offsides that happened in Premier League. On one occasion, in a match between Tottenham and Norwich, a goal was ruled out because of a nearly invisible offside. The same thing happened in a match between Wolverhampton and Liverpool, where a goal scored by Pedro Nato was ruled out, what resulted in changing the matches result and caused a lot of controversy.
Although it was thought that presence of VAR would only bring advantages into improving refereeing in football, opinions used to be divided, as some of referees’ decisions greatly discredited the VAR idea. That was mostly a problem with poorly written rules, but currently as VAR gets more and more popular in professional football leagues and there are more regulations being implemented, I think that VAR in the near future will be near-perfectly working and will have a great impact on making football more fair.