V.A.R Video Assistant Referee- How and when is it used

V.A.R Video Assistant Referee- How and when is it used

V.A.R Video Assistant Referee- How and when is it used .What is VAR – and what does it stand for? and How does it Var work.

The Video Assistant Referee system, known as VAR, is football’s first use of video technology to reach more correct decisions. The system was trialled in the FA and Carabao Cups in each of the last two seasons, and has already been employed in Italian and German league football as well as the 2018 World Cup.

when is it used

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.
Red card being issued
Direct red card incidents

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.
Shirt with a question mark
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.
How does video assistant referee (VAR) work?

Step 1

Incident occurs

The referee informs the VAR, or the VAR recommends to the referee that a decision/incident should be reviewed.
Incident occurs

Step 2

Review and advice by the VAR


The video footage is reviewed by the VAR, who advises the referee via headset what the video shows.
Review and advice by VARs

Step 3

Decision or action is taken

The referee decides to review the video footage on the side of the field of play before taking the appropriate action/decision, or the referee accepts the information from the VAR and takes the appropriate action/decision.

What are the rules of VAR being used?

VAR only intervenes in the course of a match when the officials have made a ‘clear and obvious error’ in one of four key areas.

var goal

A close offside decision is the most common reason for VAR being consulted after a goal has been scored, but shirt-pulling and other infringements can cause goals to be chalked off.

NB. The concept of ‘clear and obvious’ errors does not apply to offsides. A player is either onside or offside – you cannot be a little bit pregnant. So even if a player is offside by a matter of inches, the goal will be ruled out, which is exactly what happened with Manchester City’s third-goal-that-never-was at West Ham.


The most subjective and potentially problematic area. Penalties can be awarded or rescinded using VAR if there has been a ‘clear and obvious error’ in the original decision.

Straight red cards

Violent conduct and dangerous tackles can be penalised using VAR. Second-yellow cards cannot.

Mistaken identity

If the referee sends off the wrong player, such as the famous incident with Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in Arsenal’s 6-0 drubbing at Chelsea in 2014, that injustice can be repaired.

The system is restricted to these four areas in order to minimise disruption to the flow of the game.

How does this work in practice?

The VAR speaks to the on-field referee through an earpiece, or vica versa, and the referee will put his hand up to pause play and inform the players a decision is being reviewed.
VAR reviews the video footage of the incident and advises whether or not action should be taken. If there has been an error, the referee will draw a rectangle with his arms to replicate a TV a screen to change his original decision.

In the case of more subjective incidents, the VAR will instruct the referee to watch a replay on a pitchside screen. This is known as an on-pitch review.

Where are the video referees?

VAR HQ is at Stockley Park in south West London.

What changes have the Premier League made to help VAR succeed?

So far we have covered the VAR rules that have been in place since the system’s inception, and were used at the World Cup last summer.

However, the Premier League have enforced some of their own criteria with a view to minimising disruption to the flow of the game.

Firstly, referees have been told to avoid on-pitch reviews at the pitch-side screen whenever possible. These types of review are known to cause the longest delays. Instead, on-pitch referees have been told to trust the advice they are given by VAR.

There has also been a pledge from former referee Neil Swarbrick, the man leading VAR’s implementation in the Premier League, to stick to a ‘higher threshold’ for reviewing decisions and only intervene in the case of ‘clear and obvious’ errors (does not apply to offsides, remember).

“It’s different interpretations of the IFAB laws. The different variations we’ve got we hope will stop the long stoppages and the long reviews with the screen,” Swarbrick told the Mirror.

The IFAB laws

The IFAB laws – set by the International Football Association Board – are interpreted literally in the Champions League for example. This has led to penalties being given for handballs such as Moussa Sissoko’s in the Champions League final against Liverpool, or Presnel Kimpembe’s against Manchester United for PSG in the last-16. IFAB state that penalties can be given if the hand or arm extends beyonds the ‘natural silhouette’ of the body, regardless of intent.

Mike Riley, head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board, has said Premier league officials will follow a softer interpretation of the handball rule.

On the example of Sissoko’s conceded penalty Riley told The Times: “In real time it (Sissoko’s handball) looks a clear penalty.

“With VAR you can actually see what he’s doing, and he’s not interested in trying to block the cross, he’s saying to the covering defender, ‘Get over there and fill the space.’

“That’s not a deliberate act of extending the arm away from the body.”

However, Premier League referees will disallow any goal in which the ball strikes the hand of an attacking player in the build-up, deliberate or otherwise. This rule saw Wolves have a goal chalked off in their opening weekend draw at Leicester.

What are some of the criticisms?

There have been several controversies and teething problems during VAR’s trial stages, and the system has many opponents. Their criticisms have included:

Fans in the stadium not being aware of when a decision is being reviewed, particularly in venues with no big screen. The Premier League have done their best to ensure big screens are used to relay decisions to fans, although Anfield and Old Trafford do not have this facility. You may have noted the loud tannoy announcements Man Utd use instead.
The subjective nature of football’s laws. Despite the availability of replays, there remain debates and disagreements about penalty incidents. Decisions still come down to human interpretation.
The time it takes for decisions to be reached disrupts the flow of the match. Some games with VAR in use have produced five or six minutes of first-half stoppage time.
The spontaneous joy of goal celebrations being lost due to the possibility of a review, detrimental to the atmosphere in stadiums.

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