The Video Assistant Referee Debate


Vincent Wentorf, Writer

Using technology to assist referees in making correct calls sounds like a great idea on the surface. It seems like it’d remove emotion from each decision and allow the referee to step back and make the correct decision. Also help the referee catch anything he or she may have missed. In the world of football (soccer), it is called VAR; Video assistant referee. Sadly for football fans around the world it has not been a happy marriage. VAR has brought more controversy than it has removed. Now I think all fans can agree goal line technology and reviewing red card offenses are fine parts of the system. The controversy comes in when goals are getting taken back for millimeter offside decisions and weird loopholes that prevent red cards from being given. Yes, Liverpool fans, Pickford should’ve gotten a red card. Only a toffee will argue that. 

A game that represents the epitome of why everyone hates VAR, October 17th, the Merseyside  derby. The Merseyside derby never fails to produce drama since it is the derby with the most cards given. So naturally, it got nasty. In the 11th minute of the game, on a free kick, Everton Jordan Pickford takes out Liverpool center back Virgil Vandijk. If you ask a Liverpool fan, it was clear head hunting. Ask any other fan, it was a clear red card. What does the VAR decision say? Offsides! Since Virgil Vandijk was offside before he was maliciously attacked the foul didn’t count. Virgil Vandijk has just undergone surgery from the season ending injury he received from this incident. Late in the game Jordan Henderson scored to put Liverpool up 3-2. It was exciting. It was a late minute winner, something every football fan can appreciate. What was the VAR decision? Offsides! Sadio Mane had his upper back just millimeters over the offside line when he received the ball. 

How do I reckon we fix this catastrophe? The easiest option: get rid of it. No one asked for VAR and there are plenty of players, fans, and referees against it.  VAR is here to stay though so we just need to tweak it. There is nothing wrong with reviewing red card offenses or goal line technology. The problem is mostly with offside calls. First off, give a red card even if it is after an offside. That shouldn’t even need to be said. Second, a determination of offside should be based on steps. If a player’s shoulder, toe, or heel hangs over and he isn’t clearly stepping over the offside line, it is not offside. These 2 changes would make a ton of difference and would be welcomed by many fans.