VAR needs to be removed from our beautiful game!

1 October 2023

I’ve watched football since the age of 8 years old. I am now 37 years old this October and since the 90’s I’ve watched thousands of games with family and friends both at home and in the stadiums. To add, I also played football from the age of 6 in Saturday and Sunday leagues right up to a semi-pro level where I then stopped playing at around the age of 26. I now teach and coach my 5 year old which I absolutely love!

I can honestly say, after so long of watching and playing the sport that VAR is no good for football. Just like the introduction of the Halo in Formula One racing I had my doubts over its use and so I felt the same about VAR (Video Assistant Referee), however, I welcomed the idea of using VAR when it first arrived in the English Premier League in the 2019/20 season, I felt it was worth giving it ago to see how it played out as I actually fell in love with the Halo system idea for F1 and it’s been great!

I gave VAR half a season and I have to say I was sick and fed up with it back then. Going into the third season it’s mind-blowing that we are still using it, it’s ruining the game and I can honestly say it has had no real positive impact on the sport

2 weeks ago we all know what happened in the Liverpool vs Spurs game and last night’s disallowed goal in Spain Vs Scotland was the nail in the coffin!

Why is it so bad?

As passionate football fans, we’ve witnessed countless debates and discussions surrounding the introduction of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology in the sport. While VAR was introduced with the noble intention of reducing controversial decisions and ensuring fairness, there are compelling reasons why many of us believe that football doesn’t need VAR.

1. Human Element – Football has always been a game of passion, emotion, and, most importantly, human error. The unpredictability of refereeing decisions has been an integral part of the sport’s charm. Whether it’s a contentious penalty call or an offside decision, these controversies spark conversations and add an element of excitement to the game that VAR tends to diminish.

2. Delays and Disruption – VAR has often been criticised for causing lengthy stoppages and disrupting the flow of the game. Fans want to see continuous action and entertainment, not referees huddled around screens for minutes on end. The constant interruptions take away from the natural rhythm and intensity of the match, whats even worse, when they do take 5 minutes to look at something they get it wrong on most occasions, ask the pros! They think it’s a mess themselves and that’s saying something!

3. Subjectivity and Interpretation – VAR hasn’t entirely eradicated controversial decisions; instead, it has shifted the debate from the field to the VAR room. The technology can still be subject to interpretation and the biases of those operating it. This subjectivity only shifts the blame from one set of officials to another, that decision in the Liverpool Spur’s game was incredible. Listen carefully to the audio I linked to above, the officials making the VAR decision had lost the plot, and there was also some guy in the background of the audio trying to make jokes as the decisions were being made.

4. Celebrations Dampened and Cut Short – One of the most disheartening aspects of VAR is how it affects goal celebrations. Fans and players now hesitate to fully embrace the joy of scoring due to the looming possibility of VAR overturning the decision. The raw emotions and elation of football are being suppressed.

5. Offsides and Marginal Calls – VAR’s microscopic (or not so microscopic in some cases) analysis of offside decisions has led to goals being disallowed for marginal infractions that the naked eye couldn’t possibly discern. This level of precision detracts from the spirit of the game and rewards defensive tactics over attacking flair.

6. Inequality, Resource and Cost – £1.2m per club and we still cannot make the right decisions. This season Luton Town joined the Premier League, I can’t imagine the horror they had when they were told they needed VAR! I hope someone paid the bill for them! To add not all football leagues and teams have access to the same level of VAR technology and expertise. This inequality can lead to inconsistent application and further division between the top-tier and lower-tier clubs.

While the intention behind VAR was noble, its implementation has raised valid concerns among football professionals and fans. The sport we love thrived for decades without VAR, and its imperfections were part of what made it beautiful. While we should strive for fairness, we must also remember that football’s charm lies in its unpredictability and the human element. The call for the removal of VAR is not about resisting progress but rather about preserving the essence of the beautiful game we fell in love with from day 1.