The video assistant referee (VAR) has proven highly controversial since its introduction in FIFA's Laws of the Game in 2018, after years of calls for video to be used. Has it helped make football fairer or is it destroying the spectacle of the beautiful game?
A part of the excitement of watching football is celebrating over a beloved team’s goals. With VAR, however, goals are often subject to doubt. Fans feel cautioned against celebrating too early in case a goal is ruled out. Rather than celebrating a player’s goal, fans must wait in anticipation on a referee’s decision. The waiting and uncertainty are focused on a referee’s decision rather than a player’s goal—and football should be centered on player’s goal.
Football is an emotional game, and fans deserve to share the emotion from a goal immediately alongside the players. Waiting for a referee’s decision lengthens the time between a goal and fans’ celebrationl—ruining the atmosphere. For example, Andy Heaton, a Liverpool fan, reported that the length of time it takes for a referee to decide on a goal ruins the fan experience of celebrating a goal. He stated, “I think VAR takes away the spontaneity of the game. The waiting around for the referee, waiting for a decision, it kills the atmosphere…Goal-line technology is great, it works and you get an instant answer. But VAR feels subjective. The fact there are still arguments over the penalty in the PSG-United game over whether it was right or wrong kind of points to that."
To let fans participate in the decision process as well, VAR should be broadcasted on the big screen rather than on pitchside monitors. If football is just as much for the fans as it is for the players, the fans can still be involved in celebration alongside the referee’s decision-making, without having to get rid of VAR.
[P1] Football is just as much for fans as it is for players.
[P2] VAR ruins the drama and atmosphere for the fans celebrating goals.
Rejecting the premises
[Rejecting P2] VAR adds a new and interesting layer of drama for the fans.