Understanding VAR (Virtual Assistant Referee)

The Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) is a match official who assists the center referee in making decisions that may be viewed as contentious with the help of video recording equipment and a headset. The use of VAR was necessitated by the numerous cases of wrong center-referee decisions in areas such as showing red cards, and awarding penalties and goals.

The use of VAR was approved by the International Football Association Board in 2018 and its now being used in major leagues around the world and major international competitions such as the World Cup. If there is a call for the VAR to intervene, the assistants use the headset to notify the referee of the need to check a replay of the incident and if it’s warranted the center referee goes to a screen on the pitchside where they check the replay and make a final decision from what they see on the screens.

Decisions That Call For VAR

With the use of the VAR being a new idea in the football game only four decisions can be reviewed by the use of this technology currently.

  • Penalty being awarded

Some of the areas that may be reviewed under the penalty call include a penalty being wrongly awarded, denial of a clear penalty, the location of the offense or the attacking team commits an offense such as diving.

  • Mistaken identity

This is when a player is wrongly carded which include both red and yellow cards.

  • Goal or no goal

This applies when deciding if to award a contested goal or not including if the attacking team commits an offense, handballs, wrong positioning during penalty kicks among others.

  • Red cards

The red card situation occurs when the attacking team is denied a goal-scoring opportunity by a player from the defending team, violent conduct which may include offensive language and behavior such as biting and spitting.