Will VAR make or break Russia 2018?

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After much deliberation FIFA has officially approved video reviews to aid referees at the World Cup in Russia.

The final decision was agreed to last week by FIFA’s ruling council headed by President Gianni Infantino who is confident the video technology will have a positive effect on the tournament.

“We are going to have our first World Cup with VAR,” he said.

“It has been approved and we are extremely happy with that decision.”

VAR has been trialled extensively in this season’s A-League as well as in England, Germany, Italy and last years Confederations Cup all with varying results.

The focal point of disapproval seems to revolve around removing the emotion and flow from football, something condemned by Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira.

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“Football is about emotions,” he said.

“Now, players don’t know whether to celebrate a goal or not. That is the death of football.”

However FIFA has quashed these claims, assuring football fans it plans to create a system that promotes “minimum interference, maximum benefit”.

IFAB technical director David Elleray reinforced this point by explaining the technology will only be used to influence clear mistakes in critical stages of matches.

“We do not want to destroy the essential flow and emotions of football,” he said.

“We will only interfere in clear errors in match-changing situations”.

There was certainly emotion streaming down Chris Payne’s face after his famous winning goal for Sydney FC in the 2009/10 Preliminary final against Wellington Phoenix despite the fact that the ball clearly struck his arm in the build up.

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One wonders whether his exuberant celebration was used to mislead or hide the fact the ball was bundled into the net through an illegal action.

As a football fan I’d be perfectly happy to concede the occasional slight human error within VAR in order to eradicate the horrendous decisions for the game.

There have been many players, managers and officials who’ve spoken highly of VAR including Gary Lineker, and former England boss Roy Hodgson whose Crystal Palace side were involved in a review against Brighton earlier in the season.

“It was a genuine goal. And the referee was helped by the fact he had Swarbrick in the VAR studio making a judgement that’d help him out – so I have no complaints.” Hodgson said.

If conceding the occasional goal from a contentious VAR offside call ensured infamous handball goals of Diego Maradona and Thierry Henry were correctly reviewed and overturned that seems a fair compromise.

One of the best and more recent cases in point for the inclusion can be found above which showcases an integral reason why VAR will be a welcome addition to all major competitions including the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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Connor Gibbons
Football fan and digital communications officer following Perth Glory during the 2017/2018 A-League season.
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