Skip to main content

If the strongest advocates of Video Assistant Referees are to be believed, World Cup football will never be the same again after the TV review system makes its debut at the finals on Thursday.

With this one innovation, they believe, contentious refereeing decisions will be a thing of the past, wrongs will be righted and the prospering of cheats brought to an end.

A referee works with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system which will be rolled out for the first time during the World Cup, at the 2018 World Cup International Broadcast Centre in Moscow on Saturday, June 9, 2018.

Dmitri Lovetsky/The Canadian Press

Had VAR been around, goes the thinking, German keeper Toni Schumacher’s assault on France’s Patrick Battiston in 1982 would have been properly punished, while Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal in 1986 would have led only to a direct free kick.

Story continues below advertisement

For the opponents of the use of technology, video reviews, particularly of goals, interrupt the natural rhythm of the game as tension builds before being released when the ball hits the back of the net.

Others suggest it brings only confusion where it should bring clarity and some question the technology itself, pointing to some embarrassing failures in leagues around the world which were early adopters.

One such was this year’s A-League final between Melbourne City and the Newcastle Jets, when the Australian title was decided by a single goal despite three City players being offside in the run-up to it.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) later conceded the VAR had been unable to review the footage from the relevant camera because of a software glitch.

FIFA, while accepting the technology is not yet perfect, believe it has this eventuality covered by the sheer number of feeds the VAR and his assistants will have at their disposal in their Moscow bunker - some 37 during the knockout stages.

And whatever the flaws of the system, the possibility of a retrospective red card for an incident missed in real time by the referee is certainly going to concentrate the minds of defenders.

Australia’s Matthew Jurman is used to VAR from his club football in the K-League and will be highly aware of the all-seeing eye of the camera if he is handed the task of shackling France’s attack in Kazan on Saturday.

Story continues below advertisement

“These days you can’t do much without everybody seeing it,” the centre half said on Wednesday.

“So you have obviously to be smart about defending, especially around the box.”

Despite VAR’s World Cup debut, the battle over its future in the game is not yet won and a high-profile failure in Russia could be fatal to the cause.

For players such as Australia midfielder Jackson Irvine, such considerations are well above their pay grade.

“It’s one of those things we don’t have control of,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s going to make sure the big decisions are clear and decisive with no issues.”

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter