THE TIME BOMB VAR ( Video assistance referee)
In review of VAR, The game of football has undergone tremendous evolution,
over the years, changes that has brought a notch to the heightened crescendo that comes with the game, which evokes so much passion and excitement.
The round leather game to many, is believed to be a religion, eliciting a cult followership.
More than any other sport, football creates so much passion and edge that consumes people of different ages.
Decisions that affects the game on and off the pitch, has always been a talking point, most especially, controversial calls that had altered the course of a game and irked fans and spectators.
Incidences abound of cases were refereeing decisions were done in error,
due to human factor and covert corruption on the part of match officials – Such decisions have always left a sour taste of frustration,
discontent, bitterness and an engraved disconcerted feeling on the fans.
The game of football had its dose of skirmish in 1986,
when the Argentine mercurial legend Diego Maradona, scored a goal against the three Lions of England with His hand.
An act he dubbed ‘the hand of God’.
A match the Argentines went on to win, amidst the remonstrations by the English men on and off the pitch.
Till eons of ages to come, that incident will always be a stark reference to the fallibility of referees that call matches alongside linesmen.
The Argentine team went on to clinch the prestigious trophy on the Mexican soil with the embroiled controversy marking an eternal dent of cheating and error;
cheating by Maradona and error by the referee and officials.
Japan/Korea 2002 world cup, was another tournament that exposed the refereeing fallibility albeit, unpremeditated by referees.
The match between South Korea and Italy was controversial enough to be called a fair contest.
The group stage went by with relatively little incident for the Koreans,
who notched convincing wins over Portugal and Poland as well as a 1-1 draw with the United States.
Where the fairness of proceedings came into question was in their Round of 16 clash with Italy in Daejeon,
which they won 2-1 after striker Ahn Jung-hwan headed a golden goal past Gianluigi Buffon three minutes before the game went to penalties.
Italy had been underwhelming all tournament despite boasting the talents of Maldini, Cannavaro, Totti, Nesta, Inzaghi, Materazzi, Vieri and the like,
but the manner of their defeat left a bitter taste in the mouths of fans and the establishment back home.
Christian Vieri scored the opener for Italy near to the 20-minute mark, their supporters became increasingly worried by what they perceived to be a steady flow of un-cautioned fouls.
As it was, Ecuadorian referee Byron Moreno allowed the Koreans to continue their high pressing game with near impunity, and their tactics paid off.
They stampeded the Italians into conceding a goal late on, before Ahn Jung-hwan came up with his decisive intervention in extra time.
In the meantime, the Italians fell victim to an unbelievable series of refereeing errors.
Francesco Totti was unfairly sent off for diving;
Damiano Tommasi had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside;
Choi Jin-cheul felled Gianluca Zambrotta and Kim Tae-young threw an elbow at Alessandro del Piero without any reprimand, even if the Italians were less than blameless in the rough and tumble of the game.
The Ecuadorian referee Byron Moreno, would later on apologise for his errors after FIFA was forced to investigate the match incident, because of conspiracy theories alleging a propping of Korea to reach the semis by FIFA.
The football world now yearned for near perfection in the officiating of the game to minimize the negative adrenalin, rancour and bickering that follows games with controversial officiating.
Hooliganism and rival clashes needed to be curbed and curtailed.
This led to calls for a more dependable and reliable technology that would assist referees in officiating.
In 2010 the video assistant referee Technology VAR was conceived by the Refereeing 2.0 project under the direction of the Royal Netherlands Football Association.
There were trials made on the new technology in the Erediviese league in the 2012-2013 season.
In 2016 the International football board approved rules for the trial of the new technology for subsequent adoption by FIFA member bodies.
The 2018 world cup FIFA adopted the video assistant referee technology, not without hiccups and controversial moments.
The Video assistant referee technology as structured has two points of its usefulness in a game.
They are subjective scenarios which can alter the cause of game, if ignored or checked.
VAR checks for: Clear and obvious errors and missed incidents, with a purpose of having minimum interferences and maximum benefits.
A high bar intervention on subjective decisions to maintain the pace and intensity of the game, because of complaints that VAR checks slows games down and take away the fervour and intensity of games.
VAR is mostly used in situations that involves, Goals, Penalties, missed identities, Direct and indirect Red card incidents.
The referees in the VAR room with video feeds from multiple camera sources check for subjective scenarios which the on field- referee misses.
In such situation. The referee informs the VAR, or the VAR recommends to the referee that a decision/incident should be reviewed.
The video footage is reviewed by the VAR, who advises the referee through headset the outcome of the video, which is the second step.
The referee can choose to ignore the VAR advice or choose to review it himself.
Finally, the referee decides to review the video footage on the side of the field of play;
on-field review at the Referee reviewing Area (RRA) before taking the appropriate action/decision,
or the referee accepts the information from the VAR and takes the appropriate action/decision.
Most times, the likely outcome of the referee checks is overturning of earlier decisions.
So far the accuracy of VAR decisions in games have been about 99 percent, up from the average 95 percent.
The question now, going forward is, has VAR done justice to the game or has it taken away that element of injustice that spices up games in fury, depending on the side of the coin you are leaning.
VAR the time bomb ticks.