VAR: Just How Will It Work At The FIFA World Cup?

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V-A-R. Perhaps the three most feared letters in football currently.

He Premier League has recently declined to adopt the technology for the 2018/19 season, and it’s been universally panned by every fan, pundit and manager in the game.

It’s widely accepted it’s not ready, so of course, the wise people at FIFA have agreed to use it in the world’s most prestigious and important football tournament of all, the World Cup.

The decision has arrived based on tests carried out across a thousand matches over a period and it’s ready to be unleashed on Russia 2018.

But how will it work at the tournament?

The technology will be used on a relatively similar manner to what it has been in the cup games in England.

The international friendly between England and Italy was also subject to VAR, with referee Deniz Aytekin awarding a controversial penalty in the dying minutes.

Southgate now fears it could be instrumental in England’s World Cup odds and could cause a major upset come June 14.

The England boss was keen to point out VAR should only be used if there was a clear and obvious error, whether said decision was right or wrong.

Which is true. Of course, everyone has their own perceptions of what clear and obvious is, which is what could cause chaos at the World Cup.

How VAR Works

Ultimately though, the only opinions that matter are those of the officials. A VAR decision will be made if the video assisted referee spots a clear and obvious error in what the referee has either given or missed.

This will then be communicated to the referee and the on-field referee will go and have another look on the pitch side video screen.

At no point does an on-field referee call for VAR, the referee watching the screens always instigates the process.

What Can VAR Be Used For?

Throughout Russia 2018, VAR will be used for only four things – goals, red cards, penalties and mistaken identity. That is all.

For those four things, they can only call for VAR to be used until the ball re-enters play.

So, say for example in the Group B game between Portugal and Spain there was an off-the-ball incident between Cristiano Ronaldo and Gerard Pique, the video referee would only have until the next time the ball came back in play to act upon this.

What would happen in this instance would be as play continued, the video referee would be in contact with the on-field referee and tell him to hold on restarting the game once the ball does go out of play. A decision would then be made.

VAR: Penalties and Goals

Where the system will be most commonly used is with penalties and goals.

Just as the video referee did in the England versus Italy game, VAR can intervene if they think a clear penalty decision has been missed.

It can also determine if the ball was inside or outside the box or whether it was a foul or dive by the attacker. The latter is one of the only methods in which VAR can also advise on giving a player a yellow card.

In terms of goals, VAR can contact the on-field referee if there’s reason to believe the goal is offside, there’s been an infringement by an attacking player or the ball has gone out of play prior to crossing the line.

Which all sounds fairly reasonable.

Where VAR Could Go Wrong

Once all the wrinkles are ironed out of VAR, it’s likely it will be a fantastic addition to the game.

At the moment though there are a number of issues that are damaging its own reputation.

First and foremost is the time it takes. Fans are sitting in stadiums clueless as to what’s going on and each decision is taking a couple of minutes each time.

That’s causing aggravation both in the stadium and at home. That lack of communication is causing the biggest controversy and causing the bulk of the problems.

That needs ironing out and with experience will get quicker and punters will be better informed.

Experience is another problem. Of all the officials at the World Cup, very few will be fully to grips with the technology. That could lead to confusion and ultimately cost a nation dearly.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the technology can improve on the baptism of fire it’s received so far. There’s no doubt it will be hugely influential in Russia, let’s just hope it’s for all the right reasons!

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