FOOTBALL is a fast-paced and contact sport which doesn’t always allow the referee to determine what is a foul or not at first sight.
Sometimes, the ref and his officials need to take a close look at what happened to determine the outcome and that is why the Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) was created.
How does VAR work?
The video assistant referee can be called upon for four key on-field incidents.
- Awarding goals
- Penalty decisions
- Red card decisions
- Cases of mistaken identity
The video assistant referee will be the one to let the on-pitch referee know that a decision needs to be analysed.
The VAR will liaise with the on-pitch referee to relay information on calls and at times the on-pitch official might need to go and take a look at the action himself from a screen installed in the stadium.
The video assistant referee – a top official who is watching the game away from the stadium – has access to every camera angle and goal-line technology cameras.
And interestingly, he will have to wear FULL KIT while on duty.
The VAR also has an assistant watching the game with them.
What technology does VAR use?
VAR uses over 30 cameras installed in the stadium to be able to capture every angle.
This helps the virtual assistant referee to view an incident such as a penalty from every angle and determine whether there was contact or not.
Types of cameras used include broadcast cameras, slow-motion cameras, high-definition wide-angle and tight cameras.
There is also an audio communication system used which enabled the on-pitch referee to speak with the off-pitch one.
By the dugout or in an appropriate place by the pitch line, you’ll also find a screen installed for the on-pitch referee to view any controversial incidents.
In the Premier League, the Hawk-Eye’s virtual offside line technology is used to determine whether a player was onside or not.
It has two levels.
One of them is the gridline which shows a two-dimensional line that is positioned with the final player.
This is mainly used when a player is clearly offside or not.
On the other hand, sometimes two players may be too close to each other to determine whether a goal was offside or not.
That is why there is another level of lines called crosshair.
These two offside lines are drawn, one in correspondence with the last player of the defending team and the other with the player of the offensive team.
It also features a 3D vertical line which shows whether another body part, such as an arm, is offside or not and in that case, the goal would be disallowed.
Who created VAR?
VAR was created by the Royal Netherlands Football Association.
The project was created in 2010 and was tested across Eredivisie – the Dutch league – games.
Testing was then further made throughout the Premier League, however, the system made its international debut in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
What competition is VAR used in?
Many European and South American domestic leagues introduced the VAR system such as:
- The Premier League together with domestic cups like the FA Cup
- Serie A and the Coppa Italia
- La Liga and the Copa del Rey
- Bundesliga and DFB Pokal
- Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France
- Major League Soccer in America
- Argentine Primera Division.
It is also used across main FIFA and UEFA competitions such as the World Cup and the EUROs.
We cannot leave out its use in the Champions League, Europa League and the Conference League.