Video Assistant Referee

The Video Assistant Referee refers to the match officials assisting the on-pitch referee from the video room.

There has been a lot of controversies surrounding VAR since it’s introduction. Here is a brief guide to help you understand VAR.

What is VAR?

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is a football match official that reviews decisions made by the head referee using video footage and a headset for communication.

VAR was introduced and encoded into the laws of football in 2018 by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) after extensive use and trials in various major games and shown to have improved accuracy of decisions from 93% to a near perfect 99% accuracy.

VAR consist of three officials which examines various video footages to make a decision. The VAR team consists of a referee, an assistant referee and a video operator. These three officials watch various video footages of the ongoing match from various angles and point out mistakes to the on-pitch referee concerning any of the four core areas of the match. The decision of the on-pitch referee, however, is the final say.

VAR can only make decisions in four key areas during a match. These include:

Goals and any violations of the rules of football leading to the goal


Red cards

Mistaken identity when a card is awarded

The operation of VARs is very straight forward. During play, the VAR team will be in a remote location watching the game on multiple screens, each displaying the pitch from various angles. When the on-pitch referee makes a call with regards to any of the above areas the VAR officials will review it and see if the call is correct. If the call is wrong, the VAR officials will communicate with the on-pitch referee via a microphone which is connected to the referee’s earpiece.

The referee will then choose to overturn his earlier decision based on the call by the var team, check the on-field review screen close to the pitch to see if his earlier decision was right or wrong or ignore the var completely.

In any case, the on-pitch referee decision will be final.

VAR was first used on an international level in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in the summer. Since then, many countries have adopted the use of VAR in their competitions.

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This article is brought to us by our Sports Writers Club resident columnist – Collins Michael Nwokolo. Follow him on Twitter and Pinterest.