Video Assistant Referee (VAR) and Goal Line Technology are two high-tech solutions which aim to resolve some of the most disputed issues in football. However, they are not without their own controversies, and uptake of both have come with disagreements. 

What Are VAR And Goal Line Technology?

Goal Line Technology is a system which uses an electronic aid to determine if a goal has been scored or not. The system does not replace the role of the officials, but supports them in their decision making process. The technology is regularly used in the Premier League, and in major football competitions.

VAR, on the other hand, is a match official who reviews the decisions made by the head referee. They automatically check all of the on-field decisions that fall under these four categories:

  • Goal/no goal (any decision relating to whether a goal has or has not been scored, and foul play such as encroachment during penalty kicks)
  • Penalty/no penalty
  • Direct red cards
  • Mistaken identity in awarding a yellow or red card

VAR has only been used in the Premier League since the start of the current 2019/2020 season, after all clubs voted unanimously for its introduction.

How Do The Technologies Aim To Help?

VAR and Goal Line Technology were both brought in to help referees make the right decisions, leading to fairer outcomes in football matches.

There are many controversies that have led to outcry, both goals that should have been awarded and goals that shouldn’t have been. Many of us will remember Maradona’s Hand of God (for those who don’t know, this was an illegal handball goal scored by Maradona during the 1986 World Cup in a match between Argentina and England. Argentina went on to win the match 2-1).

This is an extreme example, but there are countless other incidents – from dives leading to penalties, to a sly unseen punch, to a push during a corner. These are the types of foul play that VAR and, to a certain extent, Goal Line Technology aim to get rid of.

What Are The Criticisms?

Despite the overall aim to make football fairer, there have been criticisms of using technology in the game. Here are some of the biggest:

  • The use of VAR and Goal Line Technology can – and does – still lead to wrong decisions. In fact, between the introduction of VAR at the start of the 2019/2020 season and November 2019, VAR had overturned four correct decisions.
  • There are problems with consistency. Similar game incidences have led to different rulings by VAR.
  • The introduction of VAR and Goal Line Technology is expensive, with the vast majority of smaller leagues unable to use it.
  • The largest criticism by many fans is the ‘game-changing’ nature of the technology. Five goals were ruled out in one weekend in December, due to marginal offsides. There are concerns that VAR can be too forensic.

Is The Use Of Technology In Sport A Good Or Bad Thing?

Most players, managers and other stakeholders agree that VAR and Goal Line Technology are positives, enabling a fairer game. But, the technology should only be used in a way which is in keeping with the spirit of the game.

Beeston Shenton Solicitors have one of the UK’s leading sports law teams, so if you are looking for legal representation (whether you are a player, manager, coach or club), we can help. You can contact us today.