Ever since it was introduced to football, VAR (Video Assistant Referee) has had mixed reviews. Many fans argue it is ruining the sport and taking away the spontaneous nature of a goal being scored.
Despite these concerns, it does look like it is here to stay, certainly in the biggest competitions in the world like the Premier League in England. However, at Euro 2020, the reviews of VAR were mainly positive so can lessons be learned from the tournament?
Referees Used Monitor to Analyze Incidents Themselves
The biggest difference when it comes to how VAR was used during the European Championship compared to the domestic leagues is that the referees made the final decision in a lot of cases. If there was a controversial incident or if the video referees felt they had made a mistake, they would ask the referee to watch a replay on a monitor at the side of the pitch.
This gives the referee full control of the match. They would only pause the game for big incidents such as penalty claims, dangerous tackles and handball. It helped ensure many more correct decisions were made.
We should see the technology implemented in the same way at the World Cup next year where Brazil are the favorites in the football betting to lift the trophy. If they get as many decisions right as they did at Euro 2020, all the teams taking part will be grateful.
Decisions Made Much Faster
One of the biggest criticisms with VAR in Europe since it arrived has been that decisions were taking too long to be made. Unlike in the MLS in North America, supporters were out in the cold when it came to having a sense of what was being checked.
At Euro 2020, the speed it took to check contentious incidents was very impressive. They wasted little time to come to the correct decision. It was only when multiple angles and replays were required that more time was needed.
If the speed at which VAR is used continues to be fast, this is likely to win over a lot more sceptics. One of the reasons football is so popular is the speed at which it takes place. Unlike other sports such as American football and cricket, there aren’t as many pauses in play.
Changes For 2021/22 Premier League Season
There have been some changes made with VAR for the 2021/22 Premier League season. Arguably the most notable is for offside decisions. Thicker lines will be used to check offside decisions, after a rough season for offside calls. This will favor the attacker more, particularly when they are borderline level with the defender.
The part of the body which can be offside is now from below the armpit. Anything above this will not be counted. There were some controversial offside decisions last season and this latest change has come in following a review of how VAR is used when it comes to the offside rule.
There has also been a change to the handball rule which VAR needs to take into account. It is no longer an offense if there is an accidental handball in the build-up to a goal. Last season, Manchester United were denied all three points against West Ham when Paul Pogba was deemed to have handled the ball before his side found the back of the net.
Hopefully, we will get to a place where VAR and other similar technology benefits football as it does in other sports such as tennis and rugby. The European Championship proved that can be the case.