What is VAR?

Headlining the current European football headlines, VAR – or the video assistant referee’s full name for the concept – was introduced to the Bundesliga in 2017/18 and had been helping referees make the right decisions ever since. In VAR, the video assistant referee has access and control of the TV footage and is connected to the communication system used by match officials. The VAR will alert the referee if a match needs to be reviewed. This additional refereeing process consists of Video Assistant Referees. They watch the game in a Video Operating Room (VOR) with the help of a VAR Assistant (AVAR) and a Replay Operator (RO).

The VAR team doesn’t just watch videos in the referee’s direction. If the VAR team believes that the referee has made a mistake, they may alert the referee at any time via headset. If the referee initiates the review of the VAR team, the court referee makes a hand gesture, outlining the screen to let the players know that play is stopped.

The referee may initiate a review; VAR (and other match officials) can only advise the referee to recheck. The head referee can then take the information from the VAR and make an appropriate decision or view video clips on a specially installed screen on the side of the field. During the match, assistants constantly project video material and, if necessary, inform the chief referee about a doubtful situation.

Communication between the judge and the referee watching the video is two-way. Effective audio communication between football referee officials is, of course, crucial, even when it comes to debating controversial situations. Having the referee have a red button to check the connection between the VAR and the referee helps avoid unintentional interference with the communication of the referees.

In addition, there is a simple fact that while video technology should help referees make the right decisions, it does not guarantee them; the decision still makes calls of officials. The use of VAR is selective, prospective, two-dimensional and not entirely inclusive, so the technology does not preclude the effectiveness of on-field referees in making correct and fair decisions. In the case of football, VAR will improve refereeing fairness and increase the level of impartiality in refereeing decisions. If VAR requests video material, it can be immediately transferred to the central workplace for viewing. While VAR does not clear up all potential areas of ambiguity, watching video replay reduces errors and raises the professional standards of both referees and players.

Conclusion VAR has made a significant contribution to football. VAR is the first attempt in football to use video technology to assist referees in making decisions at the World Cup. After years of requests to introduce video technology in football to help referees, it has been rolled out in competitions worldwide, including the Bundesliga, Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and the World Cup and also the Euro Cup. 

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