The World Cup of Technology:

Implementation of  the  Video Assistant Referee (V.A.R)

Somes changes generate rejection at the beginning, and the use of technology in sports is not the exception. For several years, the benefits of using technological innovations in search of a cleaner game have been discussed, obtaining much resistance from some teams and federations. The first time technology was used in a World Cup was in Brazil 2014, where FIFA introduced the Goal-Line technology. A system that allows the referee to be alerted when the ball crosses the line of the goal (using an alarm on a watch).

For the next World Cup to be held in Russia, it is expected to incorporate a new technological tool called the VAR. FIFA President Gianni Infantino declared during the sixth session of the FIFA Council held on March 16, 2018 «We are going to have the first World Cup in 2018 with the VAR. This decision has been approved, and we are of course very happy with this decision. »

According to FIFA, the main objective is to help referees at the time of important decisions through the use of this tool. «Without the VAR, one referee commits an important error every three games, with the VAR, the error is committed every 19 games, the percentage of success of the referees with the VAR is 99%,» said Infantino.

Mode of use:

The Italian referee, Pierluigi Collina, will be responsible for preparing the judges who will attend the World Cup in Russia in the use of technology. These judges will be evaluating various moves and will participate only when the referee so requires.

The process follows the following steps:

  1. An incident occurs: The referee informs the video assistants, or they recommend to the referee that a play should be reviewed.
  2. The video assistants review the situation. The recorded images are examined, and they inform the referee of what they see on screen through an audio system. Also, the judge can observe the play on the field.
  3. Decision/arbitral action: Based on the images, the referee makes the decision.

The main observation of the teams, is that they claim that the use of the VAR threatens the game’s fluidity, to which FIFA responds that it does not alter the game because the plays are reviewed in less than 30 seconds.

Situations in which it can be implemented:

According to the protocol, the implementation of the VAR contemplates four assumptions:

  • Goals: One of the functions of the VAR is «to help the referee to determine if there has been an infraction that prevents scoring a goal.»
  • Penalty: The assistants guarantee that the correct decision will be taken when sanctioning (or not) a penalty.
  • Sent-Offs: collaborate to ensure that a player receives the rightful sanction in case of doubts about the seriousness of a fault or infraction.
  • Identity errors: In some plays in which many players participate the referee does not know who made the foul or did not see what happened.

The use of the VAR will be implemented only when the arbitrator considers that he needs visual support to guarantee a just decision. In case the judge has no doubts about his resolution, he has the authority to continue the game and not to use the technology.

Goals that marked football.

England 1966 ¨The ghost goal¨

England, the creator of football through its laws established in the Football Association, needed to win its first World Cup and received Germany in the World Cup final of 1966.

The match proceeded with normality, it was tied 2-2, and there was extra time. The selection of the 3 Lions progressed until Geoff Hurst received the ball in the 101st minute, shot and hit the crossbar with the ball hitting the goal line. The English team asked for a goal, and the Germans say the ball didn’t cross the line. The head referee Gottfried Dienst looked at his assistant Tofik Bakhramov and then announced a goal for England. A goal that will remain in history like the one that was not, like the one that left Germany without a championship and the English national team as the champion of their first World Cup, thanks to a ghost goal.

Mexico 1986 ¨The Hand of God¨

The Azteca stadium was filled with curiosity in the quarterfinals when Argentina was facing England. It was the first meeting after the Falklands war and tension floated in the environment.

After a goalless first half, one of the greatest feats registered was about to happen. In the 51st minute, the English goalkeeper Peter Shilton jumped in search of the ball, and when everything seemed under control a hand appeared unexpectedly. The number 10 of the Argentina team, Diego Maradona, anticipated the goalkeeper and the ball enters slowly. Maradona shouted the goal while the English team argued with the referee Ali Bennaceur, who announced the first goal of the match.

The match finished 2 to 1 in favor of » La Albiceleste.» Argentina had its revenge and advanced to the semifinals. This goal was immortalized in the history of football as «the hand of God»; which everyone saw except for the referee.

Failures of the VAR

The implementation of the technology will undoubtedly help to minimize human errors. Despite this, football will always have the possibility of creating a new controversy. This happened in the Australian League, where a technical error prevented the referee responsible for the (VAR) react on time before an offside and ended up being decisive in the final. The Melbourne Victory won 1-0 to the Newcastle Jets in the grand final, but with a goal that should not have been valid.

It is indisputable that technology arrived in sports to stay. Today all associations and clubs are working to make their teams more efficient by using technological advances. The organizers include the technology to make their shows fairer, and sports marketers are using it to interact more with their fans. We are witnessing the birth of a new industry, which will give much to talk about …

Ing. Luis Miguel Colmenares


Work Together


There’s nothing bigger than a fan’s passion for their team. We want the managers and technical directors to share this passion with knowledge and expertise. Let SmartPlay help you be a better manager. Let’s work together and make your team a SMART Team.