VAR Technology at the 2018 FIFA World Cup

 

Technology has become an integral part of Modern human Lifestyle and is now also
being implemented in Sports Worldwide . The use of video technology for the better-
ment of the beautiful game has been a major talking point and promises to remain one
as it would be implemented for the very first time in the long and prestigious history of
FIFA World Cup Tournaments . After years of call , Speculations ,varied opinions from
Football & greatest experts, we saw a major roll-out of Video Assistant Referee(VAR) at
the Confederations Cup last year and will be implemented at football’s greatest stage in
the 21st Edition of FIFA world cup 2018 in Russia.

One of the Semi-finals of the 1986 world cup in Mexico, played between Argentina and
England remains to be one of the most talked matches ever. Diego Maradona , the
Argentine Captain then and also arguably one of the finest footballers the South
American nation has ever produced, favoured the use of VAR. Maradona, not just
known for his agile pace but also for his popular Hand of God & the goal that he Scored
against the Three Lions in the same match said – Technology brings transparency and
quality and it provides a positive outcome for teams who decide to attack and take
risks.

What is VAR?
VAR is Video Assistant Referee. The team comprises of four members, one(1) Video
Assistant Referee(VAR) and three(3) Assistants, called Assistant Video Assistant
Referee(AVAR). All the VAR Officials work in Tandem and are connected to the on-
field referee using sophasticated radio system.

The Process can be briefly stated in following steps –

1. Incident Occurs
2. Review and Advice by VARs , now the Referee has two Options A.) to accept the
VAR information B.) to review the information (this is done with the help of pich-
side Monitor)
3. Decision or Action is taken

When is VAR Used ?

Four main Incidents have been identified as game-changing.
 Goals – The role of the VAR is to assist the referee to determine whether there
was an infringement ,that means a goal should not be awarded. As the ball has
crossed the line, play is interrupted so there is no direct impact on the game.
 Penalty Decisions – The role of the VAR is to ensure that no clearly wrong
decisions are made in conjunction with the award or non-award of a penalty kick.
 Direct Red Cards – The role of the VAR is to ensure that no clearly wrong
decisions are made in conjunction with sending off or not sending off a player.
 Mistaken Identity – The referee cautions or sends off the wrong player, or is
unsure which player should be sanctioned. The VAR will inform the referee so
that the correct player can be disciplined.

Criticism
In its short History there has been Criticism over use of technology in football . Experts
around the World have varied opinions on it's addition . Some welcomed the change
with open arms, while some others have doubts with it's implementation and eventual
outcomes.
Some managers also find the process time Consuming.
During the2016 FIFA Club World Cup Final in Japan, the first trial of the VAR in an
international club competition,Real Madrid manager then and French legend Zinedine
Zidane called the system a source of confusion.
With an intension to make the game more transparent and reduce errors FIFA will make
use of VAR Technology in 2018 FIFA World Cup to be played in Russia.

VAR IN RUSSIA

 This will be first time VAR will be operational in a World Cup.
 On Field Referees in all sixty-four (64) matches will be supported by VAR team in
a Month Long Tournament.
 A team of Video Assistant Referees will be located in a centralized video
operation room in Moscow. All relevant camera feeds from the twelve (12)
stadiums are provided to the VOR (Centralized Video operation room) through a
fibre optic network. The referee on the field at each stadium talks to the VAR
team via a sophisticated fibre-linked radio system.
 VAR has Access to all thirty-three(33) Cameras and additional two (2) Cameras
for Off-side Decisions. VAR is also Supported by eight (8) super ultra slow
motion Cameras. The number of ultra slow motion Cameras will go upto ten(10)
from the Konck-out Phase.
 The FIFA Referee Committee has selected 13 Referees, who will act solely as
video assistant referees during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
 The video assistant referee does not take any decisions; he supports the referee
in the decision making process and the final decision can only be taken by the
referee.
 After all the assistance from VAR the Decision will be made by on-Field Referee
and will stand Final.
 VAR and Goal line Technology will work in Tandem.
 To ensure that all football fans in the stadium and watching on TV are well
informed during a review process, FIFA has developed a VAR information
system for broadcasters, commentators and infotainment. For each match, a

FIFA staff member informs the broadcasters, commentators and infotainment
about the different steps of the review process, including information about the
reason for the review and the outcome of the review, via a networked touch
tablet.

Referring isnt an easy job at all. The most impartial person on the pitch is under
immense pressure as emotions are running high, both on and off the field. Players,
Captains and even animated managers, pleading to the referees to reverse decisions or
even yelling at match officials has become a common sight in recent times. Verbal
Arguments often turn ugly.
Will VAR make referring easy? Will it turn out be a regular interruption in a free flowing
game?
Will this technologically assisted referring prove to be a boon? only time will tell…

Now that the Technology is to be introduced in a competition for Football's ultimate
Prize, it surely won't take long for Domestic Leagues all across the World to do the
same.
But may it be fans, football enthusiasts or followers , all hope that the newest addition
will only benefit the Game. And the game that they love so much keeps giving them
more and more joy.

 

 

 

Shantanu Kulkarni

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