‘New technology will break momentum of match’

Thursday, June 14th, 2018 | | Sports

Jun 14, 2018-The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system to be used for the first time at the Fifa World Cup that kicks off at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Thursday has polarised the football fans, pundits and coaches across the globe.

VAR will be used in four different cases: goals and offences leading up to a goal, penalty decisions and offences leading up to a penalty, direct red cards and mistaken identity. It is believed, the VAR will make the biggest stage of game error-free and eliminate human errors that often alter the result of a game.
The VAR team communicates with the referee only for clear and obvious mistakes or serious missed incidents. Many fans, football pundits and coaches have voiced their concerns against the use of this technology. Fifa has confirmed the VAR will monitor all 64 matches.

The VAR technology has been used in international events like 2017 Confederations Cup, The A-League in Australia, MLS, Serie A, Bundesliga. The English Premier League does not use it. Former Fifa referee and Nepali international footballer Sri Ram Ranjitkar says VAR is a new technology to help referees and minimise errors.

“VAR will help to know the exact facts in certain areas, but there were errors despite the use of this technology,” said Ranjitkar, referring to 2017 Confederations Cup final between Germany and Chile after Gonzalo Jara was shown only yellow card instead of red card for elbowing Timo Werner in his face.

Ranjitkar believes the use of VAR will break the momentum of match.

“Football is more of a physical game with lot of pace. Multiple use of VAR will certainly break the rhythm of match,” he said.

He suggests making referees competent rather than breaking the pace of game by using an invasive technology. “Improving communication between referees and assistant referees and deploying additional technical manpower on the field are better options,” he said.

Another former Fifa referee and general secretary of All Nepal Football Association Referees Committee Laba Khatri has similar concerns.

“The VAR aims to make the game fair, most often inside the 18-yard box. But, it will certainly break the momentum and excitement of the game. Making referees more capable is a better idea,” said Khatri.

Nitesh Bhattari, an ardent Argentina supporter who follows World Cup since 2002 criticised the use of VAR in a major event like the World Cup.

“The technology of course helps to amend the referee’s wrong decisions. But it has more negative impact on the field. VAR breaks the tempo of the match. Involving capable referees is a better option,” said Bhattarai.

According to Fifa, the VAR team comprises a video assistant referee along with three assistants for every match. The VAR has direct and fast communication with referee supervising the match and gives him information, based on evidence, in doubtful or contentious cases. However, the final decision rests with the match referee. The VAR team has access to all relevant broadcast cameras and two dedicated offside cameras.