3 Steps Towards Improving VAR in Soccer

Jannik Vestergaard of Southampton appeals for a decision as the VAR screen sits ready on the touch line. Photo by Action Plus/Shutterstock (11026878cc)

Over the past few seasons, the use of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) has become almost universal in soccer. While some people think more highly of this system than others, the undeniable reality is that it has transformed how the game is played.

VAR corrects some egregious decisions but also leads to baffling results at times. Much has been said about how VAR could be improved, but with little changes so far.

So, how could this system be improved in a few short steps by leagues which want to improve the results of this revolutionary system? Here are some suggestions.

Take Decisions Out of the Hands of On-Field Refs

One of the biggest problems of VAR in many leagues is that while its officials are able to call the attention of the on-field ref to a possible mistake, they leave the call and the revision up to that same on-field ref.

This leads to a problem where referees do not want their interpretations of what has happened on a play to be questioned, and it is far too often for clear errors not to be rectified because of stubbornness on the referee’s part. These calls should be made by unbiased VAR officials who aren’t caught up in the on-field emotions of the game.

Move to a “Challenge” System

Is anyone else tired of seeing play stopped several times per match due to VAR usage? Instead of it coming into play at every possible opportunity, giving teams a limited number of VAR “challenges” could be worth a shot in order to improve the on-field pace of play.

Leaving the decision to review a play up to coaches would lead to only the most important (and probably the most obvious) mistakes being looked at instead of trivial ones that are almost never changed.

Apply Goal Line and Offside Technology

Unfortunately, many leagues are still using VAR when it comes to goal line and offside calls. This leads to referees making incorrect decisions at times, something which could be eliminated by the use of something as simple as a computer program.

Allowing refs to wear a watch that indicates whether or not a ball crossed the goal line or a player was offside before scoring a goal would do a lot to prevent a lot of the VAR controversy that we have seen in recent years on the biggest of stages.