Coláiste Dhúlaigh Series: How VAR affects football

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Elizabeth Quinn

9th April 2021

This series is in collaboration with first-year Investigate Journalism students in Coláiste Dhúlaigh CFE


Champions League

In April 2019 Man City vs Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium. Semi-final of the Champions League. Raheem Sterling scores a goal in 94th minute. The goal went to VAR. It took four minutes for the goal to be reviewed. The goal was disallowed. I contacted Owen Cowzer football correspondent with Irish Sun told me “I think the decisions are a greater problem than the delays.” Ex-Referee Dermot Gallagher explained on skysports that the disallowed goal was the right decision. It’s getting to the stage now that you can’t celebrate a goal.



VAR stands for Video Assistant Referee. According to premier league VAR was trialled in an FA Cup match between Brighton vs Crystal Palace in January 2018 before coming into effect at 2018 World Cup. According to telegraph VAR was introduced into football which would help change controversial decisions. I contacted Miguel Delaney chief football writer with the Independent he said ”I think it is better that teams don’t suffer an injustice.” When I watched VAR in 2018 at Russia’s World Cup I thought it would be a great idea for referees. From 2015 until 2018 there were plenty of controversial decisions in football. I felt something had to be done to improve how referees control a football match.



Many football fans go mad when a goal gets reviewed. A survey on yougby stated 63% of fans believe football is less enjoyable with Var involved. A poll on 90min revealed that 2,000 supporters were interviewed and 80% of them said they wished to see VAR implemented in full quickly. I contacted Stephen Doyle sports commentator he said “as a fan it slows the game with delays for reviews.” I also contacted Vincent Hogan sports writer with Irish Independent he told me “a source of huge frustration because of the human decision-making behind it.” I believe it makes football less enjoyable with plenty of stoppages for each game.



You could score the best goal of your life and it could be disallowed. An article on espn reported that 109 goals were affected by VAR in the Premier League last season. The article also says 42 goals were affected by VAR in the Premier League this season. Hogan also said “every decision takes at least two minutes to look at even if it’s an obvious decision.” I contacted Paul O’ Flynn sports reporter with RTE told me “the problem is that decisions change from game to game with inconsistency of video referee.” One of the problems with VAR is they’re disallowing goals for small things like your hand is offside. The video referee should benefit attacker more when allowing goals.



Most times VAR gives the right decision. According to thestatszone a study in 2018 showed only 57% of penalty decisions and goals scored went to VAR plus 69% of matches didn’t need a VAR replay. Paul O’ Flynn also said “it is great for highlighting clear and obvious mistakes.” I contacted Malachy Clerkin a sports journalist with Irish Independent he said “it reduces the amount of mistakes and leads to more fair play.” I think there are more positives to VAR than negatives but are forgotten about because football pundits like Alan Shearer, Matt LeTissier, Ian Wright and Peter Crouch constantly moan about it.



A lot of football journalists have an opinion on VAR. Roberto Firmino scores a goal against Leicester. VAR were able to show that the ball didn’t cross the line by 10 millimetres. According to an independent survey it revealed that 2,000 supporters said goal line technology is best innovation in football over the last 30 years. Stephen Doyle also told me “a positive example of technology is goal-line technology in soccer.” Vincent Hogan also told me “goal-line technology has been great in football.” I contacted Daniel McDonnell a football correspondent with Irish Independent he said “goal-line technology is brilliant in most sports including football.” I think VAR has helped in improving goal-line technology because they have ability to show it straight away. I wish that goal-line technology would have been brought in early because Frank Lampard’s goal for England vs Germany wouldn’t have been disallowed in 2010.



According to theguardian first technology came into effect 8 years ago. Other sports technology like hawkeye in tennis was introduced in 2006 and has made tennis better. Stephen Doyle also said “hawkeye in gaelic and tennis has eliminated the possibility of human error.” Owen Cowzer also said “TMO in rugby works well it gives a good understanding for people watching it at home.” Paul O’ Flynn said “video referee in rugby has positive benefits especially when looking for serious foul play.” John Kenny commentator with RTE Sport said “DRS in cricket takes bad decisions out of umpires hands.” VAR and goal-line technology can learn from other sports that I mentioned above and use this to improve technology as well keeping it enjoyable.


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