Can you explain VAR, its functioning, and highlight the major challenges associated with it?


Can you explain VAR, its functioning, and highlight the major challenges associated with it?

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While VAR is intended to enhance the accuracy of on-field refereeing, recent high-profile incidents have triggered complaints from clubs and their personnel. Manchester United’s Erik ten Hag contested multiple decisions in their Champions League loss to FC Copenhagen, including the contentious red card for Marcus Rashford.

Notably, domestic matches have seen their share of VAR controversies. Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta criticized what he deemed “unacceptable” errors by both on-pitch and VAR officials in a loss to Newcastle, and Wolves’ Gary O’Neil has persistently voiced his dissatisfaction with VAR-related outcomes.

The controversies include disputed penalties, contentious red cards, and VAR’s role in crucial moments. Ange Postecoglou suggested that clubs contribute to prolonged stoppages by consistently complaining about decisions. However, opinions on VAR decisions remain highly subjective, with one manager’s criticism contrasting another’s justification.

While most VAR issues involve subjective decisions, there have been instances of clear mistakes. A notable example was Luis Diaz’s goal for Liverpool against Tottenham, initially ruled out for offside, then allowed to stay disallowed despite VAR processes showing he was onside, attributed to a “significant human error.”

Despite these challenges, VAR has had successes, with many correct decisions going unnoticed amid the controversies. The Premier League reported an increase in correct decisions from 82% before VAR to 94% in the 2019/20 season.

VAR reviews occur in four match-changing situations: goals, penalty decisions, direct red-card incidents, and mistaken identity. The process involves constant monitoring by VAR officials at Stockley Park, who can recommend overturning, a pitchside check, or continuation of play. Referees can accept or review VAR recommendations, maintaining a balance between on-field decisions and video assistance.


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