VAR is perfect for football according to the technical director of IFAB David Elleray

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The video assistant referee (VAR) has remained one of the biggest and most controversial innovation in football as far as the digitization of the game is concerned. Most critics believe that the system has affected the beauty of the game negatively and it is gradually removing the human face in the sport.

But David Elleray, the technical director of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), believes that the introduction of the VAR in football has improved the behavior of footballers during football games.

Note that the VAR is an assistant referee in association football who reviews decisions made by the head referee with the use of video footage and headset for communication specifically to minimize human errors causing substantial influence on match results.

The use of VAR has been a part of the law books of the World football governing body, FIFA, since 2018 when IFAB agreed to make it law for football competitions that can afford the innovation.

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Since then, some major leagues in the world and football competitions have adopted the system. Despite the beauty of the VAR, the bad sides of it have been more on the news than the good sides.

Whenever a decision by the VAR does not favor a particular set of football fans, such fans would call for it to be scrapped; then those the decision favors would see it as the savior of the game.

Due to the controversies that come with the VAR, IFAB has been under pressure to review the law that guides the operation of the innovation. But IFAB might not bow to such pressure as IFAB director, Jonathan Ford, confirmed that the FIFA’s lawmaking body would not discuss the review of VAR in its next AGM meeting scheduled for March 2021.

In the same light, the technical director of IFAB, David Elleray, stressed that VAR has minimized the tendency of footballers to dive in the penalty area. He said he does not see any reason why there should be time restrictions on video reviews during football games.

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VAR is perfect for football according to the technical director of IFAB David Elleray
A Video Assistant Referee control room during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Amidst all the criticism against VAR, Elleray insisted that the innovation has “benefitted football” because “there are fewer games unfairly decided by clear and obvious errors by the match official”.

“Fewer players are getting away with violence on the field behind the referee’s back, or indeed getting away potential injury-threatening tackles, which the referee hasn’t been able to judge correctly”, he added.

“Whether there are more penalties because of VAR, I think that’s an interesting debate. We haven’t analyzed that data, as such, but it’s clear that football is fairer. It’s also clear that VAR has had an impact on the flow of the game because, inevitably, if you are going to stop the game to look at a replay, that involves stopping the flow of the game.

“I think some of the other benefits are less well-publicized but there’s evidence that there’s a significant reduction in simulation in the penalty area. There’s also a general reduction in players mobbing and arguing with referees because they know, very well, that any contentious decision relating to a penalty or a goal is going to be checked, or reviewed, by the VAR. So, the behavior is better.”

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This means that the VAR is here to stay and it might be extremely difficult for the critics of the innovation to get rid of VAR anytime soon.

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