VarFrom Perfect

VAR usage in...World Football

After initially being trialled in early 2016, VAR was officially introduced for the Club World Cup later that year, with the A-League becoming the first top flight professional competition to implement it.

It has since been used in the German, Italian, Spanish and French leagues - along with many more around the world - as well as international tournaments and domestic cup competitions. As of 2018, when IFAB released a report of its findings, VAR had been used in over 800 competitive matches and improved the accuracy of decisions by 5%.

Competitions icon
Competitions
20+
Matches icon
Matches
804
Matches without review icon
Matches without review
533
Matches with review icon
Matches with review
271
Matches with multiple reviews icon
Matches with multiple reviews
42
Penalty/goal checks icon
Penalty/goal checks
56.90%
Checks per match icon
Checks per match
<5
Time per check icon
Time per check
00:00:20
Time per review icon
Time per review
00:01:00
Total time lost icon
Total time lost
<1%
Time lost - Free kicks icon
Time lost - Free kicks
9.50%
Time lost - Throws icon
Time lost - Throws
8%
Time lost - Goal kicks icon
Time lost - Goal kicks
6%
Time lost - Corners icon
Time lost - Corners
4.50%
Time lost - Subs icon
Time lost - Subs
3.50%
Initial decision errors icon
Initial decision errors
33%
Errors not corrected icon
Errors not corrected
5%
Decisive impact icon
Decisive impact
8%
Initial accuracy icon
Initial accuracy
93%
Accuracy with VAR icon
Accuracy with VAR
98.90%

What Could Have Been

Footballing history is littered with flashpoints and controversial moments.

Some of the most iconic moments in the history of the sport would not have happened if VAR had been in place; but would a sanitised version of the game really be more entertaining for fans?

Here are 10 of the biggest talking points that would have been laid to rest if video technology had been in place...

Geoff Hurst

England v West Germany, World Cup

1966

Reality
Score: 2-2

In the 1966 World Cup final, Geoff Hurst hit what was to be the second of his three goals that inspired England to their one and only World Cup triumph. His shot hit the underside of the bar and after a period of consultation, the referee and his assistant decided it had bounced back down and over the line and thus awarded it despite claims to the contrary from West Germany.

If VAR Existed
Score: 4-2

Play carries on after Hurst's effort cannons down off the crossbar, with England players and fans protesting to referee Gottfried Dienst. Eventually, the Swiss official puts his hand to his ear and signals for a VAR monitor check on the side of the pitch. After a substantial break in play, replays show the goal was legitimate and it is awarded to spark wild celebrations at Wembley.

The goal proved to be correctly given, so England's triumph would still stand, eventually winning 4-2 with Hurst eventually grabbing a hat-trick.

Ask The Experts

The International Association Football Board are the people responsible for introducing VAR to football.

There have been plenty of hurdles to overcome and while they admit it is not yet the finished product, the early feedback from within the refereeing community has been overwhelmingly positive.

Lukas Brud

Secretary of International Football Association Board

The VAR concept is still at the beginning; it is a 10-year project until we are at the stage where people really understand how it works.

Every single referee has said to us ‘for us, it’s great. We don't have to be afraid of killing our careers’.

Many people forget that referees can decide matches with wrong decisions not because they are not good - they are a very high level - but they make mistakes because they are human. They will have someone to fall back on and they love it.

Mike Riley

General manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited

Over the years there have been some high-profile matches around the world where, through no fault of their own, match officials make mistakes. Those mistakes have had an impact on the outcome.

Immediately people can see things on TV, on their phones, and know mistakes have been made. So if you have that power of technology, why not harness it to help what is happening on the pitch?

While VAR will not capture everything, it will help us make more better decisions. But it will not stop the debate over decisions next season.

FAQs

So how does VAR work?

Here is a brief summary of what to look for and what to expect when it is introduced to the Premier League in the 2019/20 season.

  • What decisions can be reviewed by VAR?

    Goals

    All goals will be automatically reviewed before being awarded. The checks will cover everything from a potential offside in the build-up to a possible foul by an attacking player before the goal is eventually given or ruled out.

    Penalties

    The referee and the video assistants will review whether a foul has been made inside or outside the box, and whether or not the player fouled was in an offside position at any point or not. Play can often continue for several minutes until a natural break, before the referee decides to address the decision on the advice of their assistants.

    Red Cards

    All direct red card incidents will be reviewed, and any incidents that have not been picked up by the officials on the pitch will be relayed to the match referee, who will then make a final decision after consultation.

    Mistaken Identity

    The referee is able to view the video footage at the side of the pitch if in doubt over the identity of the culprit, in order to avoid punishing the wrong player.

  • How is it reviewed by VAR?

    1. Identify possible mistake

    After an incident occurs on the pitch, the referee will recommend VAR reviews the decision (or vice versa).

    2. Review the play

    The video footage will be reviewed back in a studio that has multiple screens and camera angles.

    3. Speak to the referee

    The assistant will advise the on-field referee on what they see via a headset.

    4. Referee makes the final decision

    After being given technological assistance, the referee will decide whether to review the video footage on the side of the pitch before making an appropriate decision, unless they trust the opinion of the assistant and make a decision straight away.

  • How do we know when VAR is being used?

    Hand to ear

    When talking to one of their assistants, the referee can delay a restart in the game by putting a hand over their ear to signal that they are communicating about a decision.

    Official review sign

    The referee will draw out a large TV sign with their hands to signal that an official VAR review will take place and that play has been stopped to review a decision, either with the monitor, or just to change a decision based on the information passed back to them.

    Big screen

    It has been announced that ahead of the introduction to the Premier League, it will be clearly displayed on big screens in the stadium that a decision review is ongoing or has already happened. If the technology offers definitive proof of a decision - such as offside - replays will be shown in an attempt to make it a better experience for fans inside the ground.