As probably half the entire population of the planet is aware, due to the scale of its magnitude, 2018 is a World Cup year. This latest edition will take place in Russia, bringing the football universe to a month long frenzy of unlimited matches and a glorious show in of the game’s greatest and most prestigious competition.
However, one of the main headlines of this year’s edition, apart from the football itself, of course, is the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). In recent months, the debate has been on whether VAR will be used at this year’s world cup. Those debates were however recently put to bed as FIFA chief commercial officer, Phillipe Le Floc’h confirmed that the video technology will be used during the world cup.
This decision comes amid heated debates as to the usefulness of the technology and its overall impact on the game. FIFA’s head of refereeing, Massimo Busacca, in a recent refereeing training session in Kolkata, India, voiced his concerns against the VAR, by stating that, “The day we think technology will substitute human decisions, we kill football.”
Mr.Bussaca’s concerns capture the thoughts and reservations of most football fans and pundits alike who are against the use of the technology. The allure of the football game is in its simplicity and non-stop nature, which is now threatened by the VAR. The main argument against the VAR is in its intrusive nature on the game. VAR encroaches on the free-flowing element of the game, as there is often a stop in proceedings during the period that the referee is consulting the VAR, as was seen throughout the Confederations Cup tournament, where the technology was employed. Football is a contact sport and every time two players clash, or when a controversial decision is awarded, fans and pundits alike debate on whether the decision was indeed the correct one, amid of countless replays and reviews of the footage after the actual incident. That’s the beauty of the game. That’s where its beauty lies. In its fluidity, unexpectedness and unpredictability and to subject every decision or major decisions to trivial scrutiny by the use of technology dilutes all of those elements from the game, making it bland and overly technical.
However, VAR technology is not all that bad. After all, it stems from a place of wanting to make the game fairer. It seeks to eradicate refereeing errors from the game and stop unfair playing practices (such as diving, handling of the ball and so on) thereby making the game that much more even and fairer. The introduction of the Goal Line technology is another good example of the use of technology in bettering of the game and making it fairer. Therefore, the use of technology should be encouraged in modern football for the overall betterment of the game.
However, be that as it may, this must not come at the cost of the game’s entertainment factor. Fair play and correct refereeing should always be encouraged but when it threatens the free-flowing nature of the game, especially through the introduction of VAR technology, a degree of resistance should be expected.
Nonetheless, as football fans all over the world wait to see how practical and useful the VAR will prove to be, one thing’s for sure. The World Cup will still be a spectacle to marvel upon either way.