Will VAR Change Football As We Know It?

English fans were left devastated and infuriated after the recent draw in a friendly against Italy on Tuesday. England took the lead with a clever quick free kick taken by Jesse Lingard who passed it through to Jamie Vardy leaving him 1 on 1 with the Italian keeper, Gianluigi Donnnarumma, which was only going to result in one thing. Vardy fired a powerful shot in the top right corner making it 1-0. England had chance after chance but were also slow and sloppy in defense. One attack from the Italians led English centre back James Tarkowski to make a challenge in the box to prevent a shot on goal. There were claims in the stadium of a penalty but the referee did not agree. The Video Assistant Referee then put this decision into question and after an aggravating 5 minutes of the footage being analysed, a penalty was then given which put Italy level in the 88th minute.

Understandably, English fans feel cheated as the original decision was changed against their favour giving the penalty. VAR has been widely criticized and unwelcome by many due to VAR slowing the game down. Football fans tend to enjoy and not stray from tradition and feel very strongly about their opinions. However, I am sure if you are on the benefiting side from a VAR decision then I doubt you would see as many complaints about it.

It was only a matter of time before technology like this was going to be introduced to football. It is already used for both tennis and rugby for a number of years and now it is used in a variety of different football leagues and competitions. For example; it is in use for Italy’s Serie A, German Bundesliga, Major League Soccer in USA, Portuguese Primeria Liga, the K league in South Korea and Australia’s A league. It was used in the under 20’s World Cup and from the semi final stage, in the FA and Carabao Cup. It was approved in March that VAR would be used for this year’s World Cup in Russia and as explained before England got a bitter taste of what we could possibly expect a lot of this summer.

There is only rumors and speculation of, if and when VAR could be coming to the biggest league in football, the Premier League. Fans believe this will take away the passion and what football is all about. If you think football fans aren’t passionate then you have clearly never seen Arsenal FCTV or Liverpool fans singing YNWA at Anfield. Analysing every decision a referee isn’t 100% certain will make us loose all those “AGUEROOO” moments which is what the fans fear. Most football players also seem dubious about VAR with Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon saying, VAR is “making the game ugly” (wonder if he thought that on Tuesday) and German midfielder Sami Khedira saying “at the moment it’s a disaster. It’s all a big jumble. The players do not know any more whether or not to celebrate after a goal. A lot of emotion and passion has been lost!”

However, Fifa President, Gianni Infantino is “extremely happy” with VAR and that it will be a “great success” as well as also saying this is the “future of football”. The improvements and developments of technology over time may have just changed football as we know it, only time will tell if this will be for the better or for the worse.

Drew Jenkins

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