Introduction Of The Video Assistant Referee (VAR)

Have you been wondering what the VAR is and when it came into play? Then, you need to go through this article titled ”Introduction Of The Video Assistant Referee (VAR)”. Also, we shall study some subtopics like: Overview Of The VAR, Background Details Of The VAR, The First Public Application Of VAR and The Cost Of VAR .

Now, let’s focus on the title “Introduction Of The Video Assistant Referee (VAR)”.

Overview Of The VAR

VAR simply stands for ‘Video Assistant Referee’. Just like the name implies, it aids football officials especially the referee to make accurate decisions.

Meanwhile, there is an additional referee regarded as the ‘assistant video assistant referee (AVAR)’ that still oversees the affairs in the video operation room.

One may ask, what does the AVAR specifically do? It is simple. AVAR supervises the football game from the video operation room and also looks into the review of the VAR.

On March 3, 2018, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) enshrined the BAR into the Laws of the Game. The idea behind the VAR is to offer clarity and not obstruct the flow of the game. When the referee doesn’t have a clear vision of an infringement, the VAR helps out.

Background Details Of The VAR

The Refereeing 2.0 project brought in the VAR in 2010. Meanwhile, the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) oversaw this introduction.

During the 2012-13 Eredivisie season, they put the VAR to test in a football match. It wasn’t very effective at the match, so the KNVB wrote to the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

As at 2014, when they wrote to IFAB, they appealed for a more conducive system to support the implementation of the VAR. The IFAB gave their consent KNVB went on with its trials.

If there had been a VAR in football, Thierry Henry’s handball infringement would have been spotted and Ireland wouldn’t get disqualified from the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The First Public Application Of VAR

As at July 2016, the VAR was set to be used in football matches. So, it first featured in a match between PSV and FC Eindhoven. Then, it went on another feature in August 2016, this time in the MLS.

The officiating referee was Ismail Elfath, while the official in-charge of the VAR was Allen Chapman. Impressively, the referee, with the help of the VAR, reviewed two distinct infringements, which enabled him issue a red card and a yellow card.

The Introduction Of A VAR Pitchside Monitor

Apparently, the match between Ajax and Willem II on 21 September 2016, ushered in the pitchside monitor. What is the use of the pitchside monitor? It will serve as a display for the on-field referee to watch an incident that occurred on the pitch and take a decision.

In this particular match, after the referee reviewed an infringement on the pitch, he overturned a yellow card into a red card. As a result, it became the initial of a player coming from a pitch-side monitor review.

The 2016 FIFA Club World Cup also witnessed a VAR pitchside monitor. It was a match between Kashima Antlers and Atlético Nacional. Atlético Nacional would have made away with an infringement in the penalty box. But, after a pitchside monitor review by the referee, he awarded the penalty to Kashima Antlers. They won 3-0 at full time.

On the 7th of April, 2017, the VAR debuted in the top tier Australian league, making it the pioneer top flight league to use the VAR system. They used it for the match between Melbourne City and Adelaide United.

Surprisingly, the referee didn’t use the VAR throughout the game.

A national league game between Wellington Phoenix vs Sydney FC was the initial game that the VAR helped out to give an accurate judgment. The referee didn’t spot a handball in the penalty box. But, after the VAR reviewed it, the referee gave the penalty to Sydney FC to see the game end in a 1-1 draw.

More Information

The use of the VAR went on, even on international level like the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in June. Then, the match between SL Benfica and Vitoria SC at Jamor Stadium on the 28 May 2017. The first Women’s match to use the VAR was between Sporting CP and SC Braga.

Meanwhile, the use of VAR took place in top flight European football league competitions like the Bundesliga and Seria A. It was not until the 8th of January 2018, that the VAR came to England. It happened in the 2017–18 FA Cup game between Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace.

Based on popular demand by the premier league teams on 15th November 2018, the plead for the introduction of VAR into the Premier League was on.

The Criticism Of The VAR

In as much as the VAR meant good, some people still felt it wasn’t helping the game. A typical example is the application of the VAR in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Due to many irregularities, people talked bad about it.

The most surprising fact is, as much decisions are rightly corrected through VAR, many are also wrongly judged even after the review.

According to The Guardian, the VAR gets direct decisions like offsides and mistaken identities, correctly. But, as for decisions such as penalties or the disciplining of players, the VAR doesn’t perform well. It ought to be consistent and offer enough clarity.

Another point of concern is the level of transparency. If there was a way each team’s representative will be at the VAR room, it will increase transparency. That way the reps will see what the VAR team reviews.

Even in 2022, the Premier League teams still express distrust in the VAR. As of 3rd September 2022, games involving Chelsea, West Ham United, Newcastle United, Crystal Palace, Brentford and Leeds United all experienced questionable VAR decisions.

The Cost Of VAR

Approximately, the VAR cost £1.2m for a single season. One will ask, who will pay for it? The Premiership clubs are the ones to foot the cost. But, they will share the cost based on their league ranking at the end of the season.

The club that wins the league will pay an estimated £195k per season. It will keep moving down, with the club finishing at 12th position, paying £67k.

Allan is of the opinion the it will only make sense if clubs allocate funds for VAR as an investment rather than a cost.


In this article, we cleared the air for those wondering what the VAR is and when it came into play. For more information on the topic ”Introduction Of The Video Assistant Referee (VAR)”, research more on: Overview Of The VAR, Background Details Of The VAR, The First Public Application Of VAR and The Cost Of VAR .

See also:

Leave a Comment