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What is VAR in Football?

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An avid creative whose word plays so much that words say I play too much; a Ki'shon flow. Life is a journey and we're all full of stories.

‘The sound of a crowd in distress, they are losing their heads as they see a violation,

It’s a pivotal moment in this game and whatever decision is taken could change the course of history right about now.

The decision could spell certain death for one party and give hope to the other.

As the whole stadium awaits the decision, the referee draws a rectangle in the air;

It’s down to VAR. The referee watches the replay of the incident and returns to the field,

The decision is no penalty – and he blows for a goal kick’

It’s been interesting, it’s been mixed, it’s the thing that has rocked the football world since its inception; the Video Assistant Referee or the VAR as it is popularly known as. The introduction of technology into football has always been a contentious issue as opposing parties duly believe that it hinders the free flow nature of what makes football magic, and to a large extent, they’ve been right. We’ve seen decisions made that have left us all awestruck, and we’ve seen decisions that just didn’t make sense. But before we get into it, a little education on the Video Assistant Referee.

The VAR is a match official in football who reviews decisions made by the head referee of a match. It came into the limelight in the year 2018 after being trialed and tested in various football leagues across the globe. Operating under the philosophy of minimal interference, maximum benefit, it has caused quite a stir in the football world since its introduction and has been labeled as either inconsistent or just inconsiderate, creating as much confusion as it does clarity.

The latest highlight was seen in the Premier League match which saw Manchester United take on Chelsea Football Club at Stamford Bridge; the latter’s home. In a rare moment of lost concentration, Harry Maguire, skipper of United, kicked out at a Chelsea player in a similar fashion to what Son Heung Min did that earned him a sending off against this same Chelsea side after VAR had reviewed it.

This time, the referee didn’t even stop play, he waved it on. Some of us thought it was yet another showing of VAR that wasn’t convincing, others thought it was the football gods and their karma at it again, after all, Maguire went on to be the goal scorer, putting the game beyond Chelsea after Anthony Martial had established a lead for United. The refereeing position is not an easy one, it never has been and that’s why over the years there have been referees positioned by the goalposts to check in-the-box incidents and the employment of goal-line technology.

The introduction of VAR, however, has blown it all wide open and people aren’t exactly sure as to how to feel about it. Inconsistency is one big issue we all have with it at this point as it looks more like they are making it up as they go, then again, the commentators and we the spectators tend to have a decent sense of judgment concerning some decisions that should be made, so we don’t get why the referee who is supposed to be able to view play from all angles and make a proper decision ends up stirring up confusion.

If nothing at all, we’ve seen it cause general upsets in matches, favor some teams a bit too much and just generally been unfair – offsides are contentious because, technology is resolute there, but shouldn’t the fact that the players are humans count at any point.

Is football going to stay the same? We can only wonder. Technology yet again, in the mix of the human ecosystem.

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