Credit where credit is due, VAR has added a new dimension to the World Cup. It has almost turned the game on its head and in all this it continues to showcase the, dare I say, dramatic influence that technology can have on our lives.
From the Refs viewpoint, they have more information available to them and now have an opportunity to make a more informed decision. It doesn’t guarantee that the interpretation will always be correct, but it does put the spotlight on the detail and it does give the referee another very important and much needed perspective.
The technology used to watch, analyse and report at football matches has evolved significantly in the last decade. The attention on the detail of the game, 4k picture quality, the birds eye reviews, the multiple camera angles, the player trackers and the slo-motion to name a few, play an important role engaging the viewer, while sharing data and stats with the TV crews, pundits & coaches. This evolution has also done more to highlight & analyse the errors and poor decisions made by officials, but until now the use of technology to ‘assist the referee’ on the pitch has largely been held back (with the exception of goal line technology).
While contending with the theatrics of the divers, huggers and Maradona’s of this world, a referee is quite limited by what they can view and analyse in that split second. At tournaments the importance of getting the decisions right and the influence of getting them wrong has a much greater impact on the overall competition. Think 1986, Argentina! In terms of this year’s World Cup, I believe we are already starting to see the influence on the players behaviour after the first few games..
Possibly more influence? Who knows? What I can tell you is that technology will continue to evolve and the Ref could potentially end up with more sophisticated tools. At this point VAR is the technology equivalent of the low hanging fruit…Perhaps some AI is on the cards??