As fans we have fallen in love with the beauty of our sports, and have dealt with the inconveniences which surround itself with these sports. Inconveniences such as referees not blowing the whistle for a clear foul or officials penalising our favourite players for a foul, which we believed, was not a foul. In our sports, whether its at a local or professional grade, we understand that referees make mistakes much like we all do in our daily lives.
However, sports have come to the conclusion that in our society, with the rapid innovation of technologies each year, that imperfection is simply not good enough. Technologies have been implemented to perfect such poor decisions.
Technology has brought upon plenty of beneficial aspects to the world of sport, whether it’s competing or viewing. Athletes are now able to be given objective feedback from their coaches to better their own game as well as the teams overall game. Technology has not only improved performance but has improved the safety of athletes. Athletes have been given better medical care and have been able to recover from their injuries at a faster rate than what they were without technology. Overall, technology has given the ability to pin point issues or problems in sports and has given an outlet to try and fix these concerns. However in an effort to fix these issues, sometimes technology tries immensely hard to perfect the game and thus works towards losing the beauty and intensity of the sports we love.
Welcome to my 2nd blog of my series delving into technology used in sports. This blog will focus on the issues which surround itself with the implementation of technology in football. Certain issues will be raised mainly around the audiences reception and sometimes the imperfection of technologies which overall have the ability to detract from the beauty of the sports we play and watch each day. I will look at an example of the referee review system used in football, the ‘VAR’.
The podcast segment of this blog will list all the current issues with the VAR in football, whilst the written blog segment will provide evidence into why these issues have circulated. Evidence can include the audiences reactions and scholars who have written articles on the topics.
Video refereeing systems have been the focal point of discussion around sports for the past decade. Systems such as the VAR, DRS and basketball referral systems were brought in to perfect decisions which are sometimes wrong with the naked eye. However, the introduction of such technologies has only seemed to add confusion and irritation.
In 2016, the new FIFA president Gianni Infantino, introduced VAR and stated that it was “inevitable” that a piece of technology such as the ‘VAR’ would make its way into the world of football. In the modern day, a fan has comes to terms with the consistant need for referees and VAR officials to make apologies after a wrong call from a VAR check. The idea that VAR would be applied and automatically fix all “touch and go” referring decisions was truly a scam.
When introduced tp the premier league, VAR already had its enemies. Five premier league clubs were opposed to the introduction of VAR. However in the 2018/19 season, the system was implemented. Players and coaches had their say as decisions were overturned as the margins of these decisions were so tight and thus left players, coaches and fans irritated and confused.
In my podcast I presented statistics which showed the recent data of VAR decisions. In concluding these statistics, I found that there was an obvious problem with the amount of decisions overturned. Overturning decisions creates a sense of irritation for not only the players and staff, but the fans. Now with the current state of the game, fans cannot truly celebrate without witnessing the VAR check.
In a study conducted by ‘Statista, (providers in marketing and consumer data) it showed the opinion of 1419 people from the British public on how successful the VAR system was in the 2019/20 season. Data showed that 10% of the total surveyed rated VAR a 0 out of 10. The rating with the highest percentage was 3 out of 10 with 15%. This study obviously doesn’t speak for the footballing world, however, it does give a glimpse as to how the VAR has been received in Britain.
In a poll created by the ‘BBC’, it showed that only a third of fans were convinced that VAR was improving the game. On the other hand, 40% of people surveyed said that VAR was ruining the game. BBC sport is one of the leading journalism websites in Britain, therefore, this survey provides a more accurate view of VAR in the English Premier League.
Here are some of the games best ever moments which would’ve been overturned if VAR had a part to play:
“The introduction of goal line technology removes contentious goal line decisions which might influence the match day atmosphere and supporter satisfaction. Even though technology may minimise bad decisions being made, football supporters may actually miss the debate which stem from refereeing decisions and which contributes to the overall experience for football supporters”. – Mathieu Winand, Professor of Sport Management and Head of Department of International Sport Management at LUNEX.
The question which people must ask themselves is whether they want the correct decisions or a fast and free flowing game which isn’t riddled with confusion. A question which I ask myself is if VAR was applied since the start of football, would we even have a game now?
In answering my question, “are we losing the beauty of our games”, I do believe that we are. However, in doing this we have received a 5.5% increase in correct decisions awarded. So whats next for the future of the VAR? This question will answered in my next blog as I will predict the future of football through reference to media futures articles and scholar articles.