Video Assistant Referee in the 2018 FIFA World Cup



A referee uses VAR to make a call during a game.

Bela Kirpalani, Deputy Sports Editor

The use of Video Assistant Referees is seen as controversial by many soccer players, coaches and fans. Earlier this month, FIFA — the global soccer governance body — announced that VAR will be used in the 2018 FIFA World Cup after its rule-making panel unanimously voted in favor of rolling out the new technology despite major concerns over its implementation. VAR, which is intended to overturn clear and obvious errors involving goals, penalty kicks and red cards, has been used on a trial basis in the Bundesliga Seria A Primeira Liga and Major League Soccer. Initially, complaints from players and managers were caused by inefficient decision-making, but the soccer world is learning to embrace this revolutionary technology. Additionally, fans in stadiums have felt left in the dark about on-field decisions. We asked NYU students their opinions on VAR and its implementation on world soccer’s biggest stage:

“I can definitely understand why VAR is controversial. I understand the appeal of perfection when it comes to calling games, but on the other hand, soccer is a human game and human error is a huge part of the competition and camaraderie.  As nice as a perfectly called game would be, I think I would rather have calls be made by a referee who knows the game and understands it at a human level than a computer.”

—Maddy Schier, CAS junior  

I’m a bit skeptical of the use of VAR in the World Cup, but welcome all the positives it could bring to the game. Ideally, I believe a VAR monitor for the fourth official can be used for cases such as player identity and off the ball aggressions. This, along with goal line technology and additional assistant referees on the goal line would make for a more fair game without interrupting the flow of the game. As a player, the flow of the game is very important, and I wouldn’t want that to be affected by VAR.”

—Maxi Rodriguez, LS first-year

“Soccer is a game strongly based on human feeling and error. The controversy and debatability of certain plays makes the game much more exhilarating. However, what can spoil the game is a blatant error that heavily favors either of the two sides involved in a match. For this reason, I believe that VAR should be used in the upcoming World Cup, but only under reasonable rules. For example, in the other sports in which replay technology is used, each side is given a limit to the number of replays they can request. I believe this is key in limiting the amount of time spent re-watching plays. A limit of three replays would be ideal I think. There are many instances I can think of in which a bad call has ruined games of huge importance, and no stage is grander than the World Cup. For these reasons, I think using VAR in the World Cup, under reasonable rules, would be a good idea.

—Zeyad Taha, CAS sophomore

“ Honestly, I think [VAR] is great; I can’t tell you how many games have been lost due to mistakes on the referee’s part. One time we actually gave up a win due to a last minute penalty kick that should not have been called in the first place. Yes, there’s an element of tradition in everyone always hating on the referee, but honestly, as a player, I happily welcome VAR. Goal line technology has already been a great help, so it was only a matter of time before something like VAR was implemented.”

—Mckennah Spagnola, Stern senior

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 26 print edition. Contact Bela Kirpalani at [email protected].