Video Replay in Soccer: Good or Bad?

Video refereeing might be implemented for the 2018 Russia World Cup.

The historic vote on whether Video Assistant Referees (VAR) will be added to the event is scheduled to take place on January 22 in Zürich amongst officials from the International FA Board (Ifab).

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However, VAR’s have already been used in Italian and German football leagues, and according to former referee and Ifab’s technical director David Elleray, it has yielded mostly positive results so far.

Generally I think it has gone much better than people have anticipated and almost every week we get an inquiry from another league about using VARs.

The technology has drawn some skepticism though, most vehemently from Italian Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who thinks that VAR’s ruin the entertainment value of soccer.

“It takes too long. I didn’t celebrate when we were awarded a penalty because six minutes had passed,” Buffon said after a game that Juventus has won over Genoa this past August. He added, “They told us that VAR would be used in clear-cut incidents where there were mistakes, but now you are even checking the replays for a trodden toe or a finger in an ear.”

The frustration that Buffon experienced has already been felt by athletes and fans alike throughout the four major sports in America — Basketball, Football, Baseball and Hockey. Variations of video replay, and the merger of technology and sports has spawned fan and player unrest about compromising their respective sport. And soccer won’t be immune to such a debate.

That is the something that Ifab officials will have to mull over in a couple of weeks when they vote. Yet, while it seems imminent that VAR’s will play a starring role in this year’s World Cup and beyond, there’s really only one question that officials must ask themselves before making this impactful decision.

At what cost is it worth it to get the call right?

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