How is VAR ruining football?

VAR is one of the most talked about features in football right now, but is it destroying the beautiful game?

Many Newcastle fans last night were disappointed by VAR’s decision to give a 98th minute penalty to PSG, after a questionable handball by Livramento. 

UEFA officials suggested earlier this year that: “UEFA should clarify that no handball offence should be called on a player if the ball is previously deflected from his own body and, in particular, when the ball does not go towards the goal.”

This rule would have saved Newcastle from conceding a penalty. However this does not fit with IFAB’s definition of handball so it was not accepted.

Now Newcastle face AC Milan in a must win game, though their spot is not guaranteed as PSG face Borussia Dortmund, who have already qualified.

What is the issue with VAR?

Thousands of opinions are given everyday, on X, TalkSport, SkySports, and they all allude to the same idea; where is the consistency in VAR? 

Another example of a controversial VAR decision was at Fulham v Wolves. Semedo makes a light challenge where he does win the ball, however Cairney catches his foot on Semedo and goes down. Many have criticised this decision, with the referee admitting that he was wrong.

How can VAR be improved?

VAR could be improved with more transparency between the referees and the fans. In rugby, the referee’s decision and thought process when checking a decision is played to the ground over the speakers. This stops any confusion from the fans, and lets those watching at home come to an educated conclusion, rather than just guessing.

Another way, suggested by a lifelong football fan and expert, Jon Austen, said: “Football managers should have a system, like in cricket, where they can ask for a review.” This would allow the managers to speak to the referee when they see something that may have been missed. He continued: “If the manager gets the claim correct, they can keep their review, but if it’s wrong they lose it for the half.”

Four years on since the introduction of VAR in the Premier League, there are still many issues with the system, and until there is a complete change in how they operate it, we will continue to see the same debates after every top-flight match.

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