No more ‘hands of God’
Iwas excited when the International Football Association board last year decided to conduct a trialapproval for the use of the video assistant referee (VAR).
Fifa president Gianni Infantino’s announcement this month that the VAR system will be used in the Confederations Cup represented a huge step forwards in football. I am all for the use of the VAR. This is the 21st century – we have the technology available to accurately and impartially review a referee’s decisions at a moment’s notice.
Technology has been implemented successfully in other popular sports such as tennis, motor racing, cricket and rugby, and the practice was quickly adopted as an integral part of the game in those sports.
The benefits of having an extra pair of eyes with the ability to rewind and view an incident from multiple angles and at different speeds, as well as the authority to overturn questionable decisions, will lend an air of credibility to a sport that has been tarnished by match-fixing and dubious refereeing decisions.
No more “hands of God”; no more diving; no more biting or deliberate foul play, no more redcarding the wrong player.
Already, there is technological assistance to point out offside violations and goal verification, as well as the pitch-side monitor (introduced last year), so the added layer of scrutiny should set players, coaches, referees and the fans at ease, because all doubt and partiality will have been removed from the decision.
There should be a referral system where the captain of a team will have a limited number of chances to appeal a decision and request a video review.
The North American United Soccer League was the first professional league to test the system and a decision to red-card a player after repeated infringements was warranted.
The Australian A-League officially adopted the system in April but, ironically, there has so far been no need to call upon the VAR.
But that doesn’t mean that the system is not essential, especially in high-stakes matches.
The VAR should either be a current or former referee, and may be located in the stadium where the match is being played or at another location entirely.
Video uplinks allow for instantaneous decisions from virtually anywhere.
The only time fans will be unhappy is when a decision goes against their team.
As soon as the technology rules against the opposing team, all will be forgiven.